Old Men, Old Journals

He was also quite a bit older than he had looked from the stage—the lines around his eyes deeper, his face more determinedly weathered, but artfully so, like one of those distressed handmade journals bought in overseas marketplaces by people who are very serious about properly poeticizing their self-absorption; for example, people like me…I wondered if Berthold might not serve the same purpose as such a journal—a sort of talismanic shortcut to authenticity, a leathery foreign object suitable for display in dimly lit cafes, telegraphing my literary ambitions, my credibility, my admirable commitment to tasteful pretension. I also wondered if there was a way to find out just how old he was, without sounding like a second grader.

-Rachel Shukert, Everything Is Going to Be Great: An Underfunded and Overexposed European Grand Tour (58)