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From Providence:
Excerpt 1

From the Introduction

There are readers who love Ishmael who write to me to say, “I've
read it four times,” “I've given copies to everyone I know,” “I'm going
to be reading this book for the rest of my life.” These are the readers
who sense that there's something more to Ishmael than years of hard
work and frustration. Over and over again, people ask, “Where did
this book come from?” as if it were some very mysterious object. If
I were to tell them that it was handed to me by an alien from another
galaxy, I think there are those who might believe me. This is how
strange it seems to them. They have the feeling that the origins of
Ishmael must be somehow magical, and they're right. I don't mean
to suggest that I'm anyone extraordinary. The universe shaped you
to come here tonight to elicit this story. The universe shaped me to
be here tonight to tell it.

This is the other half of Ishmael. This is the part that many readers
sense was left untold.

In responding to readers' letters, I soon realized that the question
“Where did this book come from?” doesn't have just one answer. It
has dozens, because Ishmael came from every part of my life. I saw
that some of the answers could be found in 1975 and 1974. But then
I saw that some of them could be found in 1967 and some of them
could be found in 1963. And some of them could be found even
before that, in 1953. Finally I realized that the real beginning of the
book had to be traced back to 1941, to one of the earliest memories
of my life, and that's where I'll start here tonight.



More excerpts from Providence

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