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A haven for 'late' blooming writers

November 19, 2012|By Hector Tobar
  • The website Bloom touts Toni Morrison as writer who published her first book-length piece of fiction at age 39.
The website Bloom touts Toni Morrison as writer who published her first… (Michael Lionstar )

You’re a writer of a certain age. Perhaps you started a family when you were younger, and now your progeny are old enough that you have time to immerse yourself in that novel or short story you always wanted to write. Or perhaps the muse only came to you at the same time those first few gray hairs popped up on your head. But when you pick up the odd book review or magazine, you are disturbed by the cult of youth that seems to have infected American letters: case in point, the New Yorker’s “20 under 40” fiction issue.

Now there’s an Internet meeting place for you. The website is called Bloom, and lest you think it’s for late bloomers, the site’s slogan asks: "‘Late’ according to whom?"

"Welcome to Bloom," the site proclaims, "where you’ll encounter the work and lives of authors whose first books were published when they were 40 or older; who bloomed in their own good time."

The site was founded by the writer Sonya Chung, who first broached the topic of lateness in an essay at the literary site The Millions last year. Chung, citing the response of critics Matthew Hunte and Joe Schuster to the New Yorker youth series, wrote that “slow, later, and older produces as great if not greater literary work than fast, early, and young.”

As the Bloom site points out, the ranks of “late” starters in literature is quite long.

"Consider Toni Morrison, and George Eliot, both of whom published their first book-length works of fiction at age 39,” the site’s authors say. "Or Nobel Prize winner Jose Saramago:  he published a first novel in 1947, at age 25; then did not publish again for 19 years, and did not publish another novel until 1980, at age 58."

Bravo "Bloom." Having recently embraced the slow in the writing of literature, this writer welcomes your revolt in the name of slow, steady and sure.

hector.tobar@latimes.com

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