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Who is John Galt?

Friday 04/28/2006 1:58 AM

Since I was a child, two books have haunted my imagination. They are the two most famous books by Ayn Rand. My father owned them and from time to time, I would see them lying on a nightstand in my parents' bedroom or somewhere around the house. I don't remember exactly what I was told, but whenever I asked about them, it was made clear that these books were complicated. And for adults. There was probably some period of time when I thought they were pornography, but didn't understand how hundreds of pages of tiny, black BLACK type could be that interesting.

Who is John Galt?

That question puzzled me for years. I knew it as an answer to a trivia question long before I had even a glimmer of understanding. It is the opening line (and one of the mysteries) of Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged. The story involves (among many, many other things) a female railroad tycoon, a brillant steel maker and the mysterious fifth concerto of an even more mysterious composer.

Ayn Rand's books have claimed two distinctions in my life. First, Atlas Shrugged is the best book that I have never finished. Everytime I pick it up (after years of neglect), I start over from the beginning and get much further along than the previous attempt. But never finish.

Second, her Fountainhead is the longest book I've ever finished in a single night. I stayed up all night reading it one January evening when I was a senior in college. You know how most people's lives are like a big boat, slow to turn and all? Well, I was no different until this iceberg of a book didn't just make me swerve... it utterly destroyed any chance of me continuing across the sea. Like a wormhole in the water, nothing was the same after that mid-winter evening, night and following morning as I raced through the pages, soaking it all in.

I know how conceited this sounds, but it's true: Two different people from two different times in my life said I was the closest thing to a living embodiment of Howard Roark they had ever met. I had no idea what they were talking about. After finally reading The Fountainhead, I was immeasureably flattered.

The short story is that The Fountainhead changed my life. For the better. For good.

The long story will have to wait for another day.

Your Link of the Day is a little blurb about somebody making a movie. Of Atlas Shrugged.


Link of the Day: Atlas Finally Gets Shrugging

File Under: Book; Dad; Link of the Day; Me
Music: Various Artists "Desert Blues 2"

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