Arthur Inman was an oddly sympathetic creature despite his often harsh and controversial views. A world-class hypochondriac, his unending medical complaints, from photophobia (the fear of light) to bromide and mercury poisoning to a multitude of chronic osteopathic disasters, were a major theme in his life. His love/hate addiction to the legions of doctors who descended on him over the years turned him into a man at the end of his moral rope. His early dreams of poetic immortality seem dubious at best. His world became a curious admixture of Krapp’s Last Tape and All in the Family.
Seldom leaving his apartment in Boston’s Garrison Hall, the building where he lived from 1919 until his death by suicide in 1963, Inman chronicled the flow of history through his fractured but highly intuitive lens, the only compass he possessed to navigate within this twilight zone of his own making. He was a man driven by a compulsive instinct to preserve and record time. He obsessively charted his own bizarre lifestyle and the lives of the more than 1,000 characters stuffed into his diary’s 155 typewritten volumes. Scanning back and forth through time, Arthur traversed this hazardous terrain with an increasing level of anxiety. Long dead people in his life, great and small, came alive within the confines of apartment #604. The tension and dread brought on by these swelling memories and by his immense self-loathing conspire with the very real turmoil going on outside his windows – the destruction of the old Boston & Albany rail yards by the massive urban renewal project, The Prudential Center, eventually to drove him completely over the edge.
His diaries were ultimately published by the Harvard University Press after exhaustive editing by Daniel Aaron, the Victor S. Thomas Professor of English and American History, Emeritus, at Harvard University. He spent eight years (1977-1985) as editor of The Inman Diary: A Public & Private Confession.