Yesterday, after reading this review of The God Themselves by Isaac Asimov at Rhapsodyinbooks, I succumbed to a very insistent urge to dig out my copy of I, Asimov, Isaac Asimov’s memoir.
I didn’t actually have to dig it out. I have a bookshelf devoted to favorite authors’ autobiographies. So it was really easy to give in to the urge.
I read a lot of Asimov when I was growing up. I enjoyed his science fiction, but I’ve always been nuts for mysteries, so one of my favorite books was Murder at the ABA; I have always loved witty little footnotes in novels ever since. If you’ve never read Murder at the ABA, and you enjoy mysteries as well as humor, I highly recommend you check your library for a copy. (And now I’m feeling an insistent urge to dig out my copy of Murder at the ABA …)
Asimov influenced me greatly when I was young. He was my favorite science fiction writer. I was an avid short story reader back then, and whenever I had any money on me, I would be off to the store to grab copies of Analog and The Magazine of Science Fiction & Fantasy (and, of course, Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine). I wrote scores of short stories during this period in my life, and at least half of them were science fiction.
It’s funny, but these days I very rarely read science fiction.
Anyway, I am now rereading I, Asimov, and enjoying once again the glimpses into this great author’s life.
From the introduction:
In 1977, I wrote my autobiography. Since I was dealing with my favorite subject, I wrote at length and I ended with 640,000 words. Since Doubleday is always overwhelmingly kind to me, they published it all – but in two volumes. The first was In Memory Yet Green (1979), the second In Joy Still Felt (1980). Together, they described the first fifty-seven years of my life in considerable detail.
It had been a quiet life and there was no great excitement in it, so even though I made up for that by what I considered a charming literary style (I never bother with false modesty, as you will quickly discover), the publication was not a world-shaking event. However, some thousands of people found pleasure in reading it, and I am periodically asked if I will continue the tale.
My answer always is: “I have to live it first”
So what I intend to do is describe my whole life as a way of presenting my thoughts and make it an independent autobiography standing on its own feet. I won’t go into the kind of detail I went into in the first two volumes. What I intend to do is to break the book into numerous sections, each dealing with some different phase of my life or some different person who affected me, and follow it as far as necessary – to the very present, if need be.
I trust and hope that, in this way, you will get to know me really well, and who knows, you may even get to like me. I would like that.
And yes, I did like him, the first time I read I, Asimov. Of course, I already knew I would.