To do the new edition of Something Wonderful Right Away, I had to have the text scanned and OCR’ed because I wrote the book before computers. So now I’m working my way, chapter-by-chapter, through the text to make corrections. It’s the closest reading of these chapters I’ve done since I was preparing the material for publication back in the Seventies.
This can’t help but excite a lot of feelings in me. For one thing, most of these people ended up staying in my life as friends, so the conversations are recordings of the beginnings of those friendships. They capture the connections made as we sparked each other to new thoughts and often made each other laugh. Occasionally, I find that I was acting in almost a therapist’s role because, as they talked to me, some of them began to articulate for the first time feelings about that part of their lives they had never really examined before. I can’t remember offhand who told me that he had never actually reflected much on his involvement in the early days of Second City, but the fact that it was going to be a book gave it a new value. “Wow, I was part of something significant enough that it’s the subject of a book!”
As part of the revision, at the end of each chapter (for anyone who doesn’t know the book, each chapter is an interview), I’m adding material about their life or work after the book came out. So far, each of those addenda includes the date of death. So I’m not only experiencing the illusion of them alive again, at the end of each conversation, I’m having to confront having lost someone. This is taking a toll I hadn’t anticipated.