Tuesday, February 15, 2011

29 May, 1937

On page 170 of Asimov's biography, In Memory Yet Green, Asimov mentions the specific date 29 May, 1937. He is 17 years and 5 months old.

Prior to mentioning this date, he shares some miscellania about his parents and about their 4th home. This apartment, on Windsor Place, was a railroad apartment, 4 rooms in a row. Asimov had a room of his own, but anyone wanting to go from the living room to the bedroom had to go through his room. (The rooms were, living room, Asimov's room, Marcia's room, his mother and brother Stanley's room. His father's room and the kitchen were across the hall. (In those days, husbands and wives who could afford to apparently had separate rooms, and slept together only for the purpose of having sex.)

He also had a closet all his own and permission to keep his magazines there. He had kept the August 1936 issue of Astounding Stories - the first magazine he'd ever owned. By the time they'd moved in to Windsor Place he had 5 issues of that magazine and a couple each of Thrilling Wonder Stories and Amazing Stories.

Asimov comments about the furniture in the apartment - "all bought cheaply." "When they wore out, if we could persuade ourselves to the expenditure, we replaced them with other items equally colorless." Asimov actually hated for them to get anything new, because "for a long while after it arrived, my parents would be reluctant to allow it to be used lest we 'wear it out.' We could make do without sitting on a chair, but to get in a new radio and be told not to use it vitiated the very reason for its existence and drove me wild."

Now, to 29 May, 1937.

"The sight of all those magazines there inspired me to prepare a little index-card system in which I listed all the stories alphabetically by title. I included the author, the length, a brief review and opinion, and a rating from no stars to five stars in half-star units.

That really made me conscious of stories, as literary items, as never before, and, after 6 years of writing amorphous, disconnected, undening-and therefore dying fictional items, it finally occurred to me to write a story.

The day on which this happened was May 29, 1937, and this first story that he worked on was called "Cosmic Corkscrew."

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