I meet Magnus today, who resembles at first Jonathan Franzen, were Franzen to be the unofficial fifth member of ABBA. And, as it so happens, Magnus is Scandinavian who just flew back from Sweden the night prior. He’s the librarian (“of sorts” he’ll be quick to add) at the Henry Miller Memorial Library in Big Sur. We both agree that flying is strange.
“This may be lore,” he says as introduction.
“Go on. I like stories.”
“Well it was during the Eisenhower years, chieftains of the Lakota tribe were flown into DC for a meeting over land. It’d been their first time in an airplane, right? When they were summoned to meet Congress, the chiefs said ‘we can’t talk or pow-wow right now. In six days, once our spirits catch up to us, then we can meet. That’s how I feel right now.” I laugh.
“That’s a great story. I don’t care if it’s true or not.”
Magnus has a cup of coffee and a slap-happy look suggesting that this noontime may as well be midnight.
“The TSA harassed me, you know. Said what was my occupation. I said ‘librarian.’ The agent looked up at me, put a finger to his lips, said ‘shhhh’, and handed me back my papers.”
I like Magnus immediately. And he has a quiet befitting of a librarian just without the air of taskmastery. There are flying mobiles and posters and books all around us, and this is the place where purportedly ‘nothing ever happens.’ But we continue talking, and at conversation’s end he hands me a card and says: “Send some of your writing to the Henry Miller Library,” and I am honored and glad to have met him. Things do happen here.