Friday, February 11, 2005

Sophocles meet Arthur Miller. Arthur Miller, Sophocles.

I go on vacation and Johnny Carson dies; I come back and Arthur Miller dies.

Years ago I had the honor of meeting Arthur Miller when I was a fledgling bookseller at the independent bookstore in the college town where I worked for a number of years. His new play Broken Glass was in rehearsals and somehow someone finagled a book signing from him. I had just switched careers and was so impressed with the fact that the first book singing I would experience with my new store was for this giant of a mind whose works I loved (and butchered) in high school. For a few weeks before, I approached every customer who came to our cash wrap with flyers for the event with a zealot’s glee only to be met with “Arthur Miller -- wasn’t he married to Marilyn Monroe?” Yes (you dolt) but he also wrote Death of a Salesman, The Crucible, A View from the Bridge and All My Sons!!!

The day of the event the line stretched literally all the way around the store. He was very gracious and witty, even chuckling with amusement as a friend of mine asked him to autograph a baseball which he did. Three first year students came running to him during a lull in the line. They saw him in our window, raced in and asked him to sign the only thing they had in their hands: an old library edition of some anthology of Greek drama. As he opened to the flyleaf the smiled and said “You know, they stole everything I wrote.”

Arthur Miller 1915-2005. And I got to shake his hand.