Monday, July 04, 2005

Black Water: the book of fantastic literature

From the diary: “July 13, 1985

“Yesterday Mom & I spent the day with the Averas at Caz. Lee finished his do-it-yrself awareness book and is trying to find an agent to handle it for him. Mom paddled about in the pool a bit. I dunked my feet – brr – read from Black Water: the book of fantastic literature. Damn thick brick of a paperback.”

I was much impressed with Black Water. It was the first anthology I remember reading that didn’t have a disappointing page in it. And there were lots of pages! I’ve piled up anthologies edited by Alberto Manguel, including his anthology of gay fiction. But, egad, have I really not read anything he put together since Black Water?

BW contained lots of classics, and famous authors from around the world. I read “The Monkey’s Paw” for the first time. (Stephen King’s Pet Sematery is a modern version of the story.) I was fascinated by “Lady into Fox” in which a man falls in love with a woman who turns into a fox; unlike a werewolf she doesn’t change back. But he still loves her! She, on the other hand, eventually finds love with another fox. Great stuff.

Jean Avera was an old friend of my mother’s. They’d known each other since second grade. Lee Avera was a chemist. He’d worked for Skippy peanut butter and I understood that he’d invented the hydrogenation process that kept the oil from separating. Because he was an employee at the time the company took the patent and Lee didn’t get rich. Didn’t that happen to the guy who invented the coathanger? Lee continued to invent new processes and products in his retirement, including DriWater.

Lee also investigated consciousness and esoteric knowledge. I remember him telling me about the third eye, that there was an eye-like structure in the brain that could pick up images when the eyes on our face are closed. Supposedly there are even light receptors somewhere in the skin of our backs. I remember once Lee got a flashlight and had me cover my eyes while he shown the light on my back. “Do you see any light?” he asked. My eyes seemed to see a thousand sparkles of reds and greens and yellows but they always seemed to do that.

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