Most lives vanish. A person dies, and little by little all traces of that life disappear. An inventor survives in his invention, an architect survives in his buildings, but most people leave behind no monuments or lasting achievements: a shelf of photograph albums, a fifth-grade report card, a bowling trophy, an ashtray filched from a Florida hotel room on the final morning of some dimly remembered vacation. A few objects, a few documents, and a smattering of impressions made on other people. Those people invariably tell stories about the dead person, but more often than not dates are scrambled, facts are left out, and the truth becomes increasingly distorted, and when those people die in their turn, most of the stories vanish with them.
My idea was this: to form a company that would publish books about the forgotten ones, to rescue the stories and facts and documents before they disappeared – and shape them into a continuous narrative, the narrative of a life.
They would come to me six months or a year after the subject had died. They would have absorbed the death by then, but still, they wouldn’t be over it, and now that everyday life had started for them again, they would understand that they would never be over it. They would want to bring their loved one back to life and I would do everything humanly possible to grant their wish. I would resurrect that person in words, and once the pages had been printed and the story had been bound between covers, they would have something to hold on to for the rest of their lives. Not only that, but something that would outlive them, that would outlive us all.
One should never underestimate the power of books.