Last Friday, the last Brother typewriter manufactured in the UK rolled off the assembly line, thus marking the end of an era.
I remember the thrill of getting my first typewriter. My grandmother took me to a dusty store near the Plaza Bolívar and bought me a manual model that sported an ñ, a ¿, and an ¡. I can’t remember the manufacturer, but I do remember typing a lot of my term papers on it. I lived dangerously, waiting until the last day before the deadline and then I’d dedicate the entire night to writing them. The clackety-clack of the keys hitting the paper was hypnotic and released all of my ideas, while the annoyance of correcting errors — having to roll the paper up a few inches and getting just the right amount of white-out on the little brush so that it would dry quickly and not leave an ugly gob on the page –, kept me focused. Some years later my stepfather bought me an electric model which, thankfully, was not altogether silent. The rhythm shaped my sentences, giving them a hard-boiled musicality that made me feel a little like Hammett. Of course, with time I graduated to the computer keyboard, but I still missed the musicality of typed prose.