Have you saved your high school notebooks? If you are like me, you disposed of them at the end of the school year with no particular regret — in fact, I sent my chemistry notes into a trash barrel with only feelings of relief. I see now that we may have been hasty, incautious.
The owner of this remarkable piece of schoolwork is asking one million dollars — or Best Offer — for it here on eBay. And an elaborate explanation of the circumstances affecting the fifteen-year old writer is offered at the bottom of the page. This is one page of a ninety-six page notebook. My transcription of this essay or draft of an essay may be imperfect, but the writer’s tone and content are perfectly clear.
Mr. Marks Thelonious Monk
E 4-7 February 9, 1933
My Favorite Magazine
My favorite magazine is the “Boy’s Life” magazine. I like it because it tells a great deal which interests boys. Forinstance: it has a great deal of stories of boy’s life, it tells you a number of camps in which you can spend up [?] the summer, it has a part in the magazine which tells you what the boys are doing in the world to become great.
It has a section in it which teaches you necessary things while camping. Most boy scouts read them, and I think it is a good magazine to read.
It is published monthly by the Manhattan Scout Council.
All the hallmarks of Monk’s later musical style are explicit here: the repetition of simple phrases — but offered at a slight slant, the insistence, the use of simple language. If you read this essay to the rhythms of a Monk piano solo it would make perfect chiming sense. The portrait of an adolescent Monk absorbed in tales of camping is still rattling around in my head, but I may get used to it.
May your happiness increase.