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Little Megan and I went to see Christopher Robin. What’s not to LUV about a movie whose message is, You should spend more time hanging out with talking stuffed animals?

Earlier in the kitchen, Megan made the mistake of asking me about my novel, so I launched into a 25-minute diatribe about June Miller, the tragic love affair with a Hassid I’d invented for her after Henry Miller leaves her for Anais Nin, her subsequent nervous breakdown. I am currently working on the section where June is institutionalized at Bellevue and subjected to electric shock treatments.

I’ve been working on the Bellevue section for many weeks, now. It’s hard to write.

“See, people don’t actually read that kind of stuff,” I said. “Screaming protagonists strapped to gurneys. That’s exactly the kind of stuff that readers skim. So, why bother writing it? The challenge to the writer then becomes: How do you convey the horror and intensity of an experience without inundating your potential reader with reams and reams of horrific description that they will merely skip over?

“Right,” Megan said.

Were her eyes glazing over?

I really wasn’t paying attention.

Because whenever anyone asks me about my work, I immediately start practicing for my Fresh Air interview with Terri Gross.

“How did the idea for this novel come to you?” Terri will ask.

“Well, Terri, as you know,” I will say, “Henry Miller was a seminal figure in 20th century literature. Undeservedly so, in my opinion. As a feminist, I’ve become increasingly interested in the ways that male authors conscripted the experience of the women closest to them—plagiarized them in fact—“

I interrupted the interview to ask Megan, “You know who Henry Miller is, right?”

“Haven’t got a clue,” said Megan.

“Anais Nin?”

Megan made a sad mouse face and shook her head.

The lone and level sands stretch far away, thought I to myself.

Anyway, I can feel myself revving up into a generative phase. Kind of analogous to the way bipolars feel at the beginning of a manic episode, I imagine. The Universe is talking to me! There are signposts in the sky! I can’t go five minutes without whipping out my little notebook and writing up some dazzling new thought, For Henry, facts were merely a point of departure. Not the truth, but a way of searching for the truth.

###

In other news, my Big Date with Batchelor #3 is tomorrow night.

I’m not looking forward to it.

We had a few pleasant phone calls, and then he started texting me every single morning with pictures of flowers.

A bit much.

I mean, it presumes a degree of intimacy. And we haven’t met. And he isn’t really tracking the things I say to him in those phone conversations—

“So, those young men on either side of you in that photo?” he asks for the third time. “Those are your sons?”

“Uh huh—“

“Ha, ha. I like the way you say, I’m the one in the middle.

For the third time.

Then there’s all that goddam prep for a date. Manicure! Hair coloring! Should I buy a new outfit—white sweater, long black skirt, flashy belt—or should I attempt to resurrect a dress from the depths of the closet where it’s no doubt become covered in fur from my recently deceased cat?

Oh, well. At least I’ll get a free meal at Le Petit Bistro out of it.

This entry was originally posted at http://mallorys-camera.dreamwidth.org. You may leave comments on either Dreamwidth or LiveJournal if you like.

Comments

( 21 comments — Leave a comment )
bandicoot
Aug. 8th, 2018 08:06 pm (UTC)
I vote for the deceased cat fur. And who was Henry Miller again? :)
mallorys_camera
Aug. 8th, 2018 08:09 pm (UTC)
The dead cat fur ensemble will ensure there won't be a repeat! :-)
bb_lurks
Aug. 8th, 2018 09:12 pm (UTC)
Cophrophagia
That's a great scene in Gravity's Rainbow, and I assure you, no reader ever skimmed over that one. I'm thinking self-fulfilling prophecy. Writers write crappy (ily?) when they think they're not going to be read, so if that's the writer's prejudice, the horror/disgusting scenes aren't up to the rest of the writing.

Or I'm just a pervert.

I spent a lot of time with 20-somethings on the AT. It was so cute how little even the readers knew of what I'd read some 50 years ago. OTOH, I got to propagandize for my neglected favorites. Have you read "House of the Seven Gables? Way better than Stephen King". &c.

You might try the Claudia strategy for a first date. Offer to go on a trail work day (hah!), or at least a hike. Then makeup, wardrobe choices get simpler.
mallorys_camera
Aug. 8th, 2018 09:27 pm (UTC)
Re: Cophrophagia
I assure you many readers skim most of Gravity's Rainbow. :-)

Not a big Hawthorne fan except for Rappucini's Daughter.

Trail work doesn't appeal to me in the least. Thing for me is that I don't really like spending one-on-one time with people I haven't already vetted from some real-life context. I mean, this guy may be perfectly wonderful, and I may completely enjoy the time we spend together. But that's kind of a crap shoot.
bb_lurks
Aug. 8th, 2018 09:45 pm (UTC)
Re: Cophrophagia
That was the other advantage of trail work. We were not one-on-one, being in a group of 12 or so, so if there wasn't any spark, we had others to be around. And you missed the significance of my "(hah!)" if you thought that was a serious suggestion. It worked for me for exactly the reason that I got immediately that C was not one to stress about her clothes or her muddiness. YMMV. You probably like less-rumpled guys, too.

I'd imagine that GR is one of those books, like Ulysses and GEB that many purchase but few read. But if you read far enough to get to this scene, you haven't been skimming. What's the point of skimming a 1000 page novel anyway? It's not like the plot is going to be the big thing, especially a parabolic plot such as this one has.
mallorys_camera
Aug. 8th, 2018 10:18 pm (UTC)
Re: Cophrophagia
No, I did not think it was a serious suggestion. :-)

I think David Foster Wallace succeeded Thomas Pynchon as the
écrivain de choix
of 1,000-page novels, at least among Gen-Xers. I'm not sure Millennials read 1,000-page novels.

As for me, I am waaay too lightweight and superficial to attempt either Gravity's Rainbow or Infinite Jest—although I will be starting Middlemarch shortly on the advice of my LJ girl squad. :-)

bb_lurks
Aug. 8th, 2018 10:50 pm (UTC)
Re: Cophrophagia
Infinite Jest was not worth buying even as a doorstop. Wallace isn't 1/2 the writer Pynchon is, and GR wasn't even his best work. For emotional impact, Vineland was much better, and for channeling fury against the entitled, Against the Day was terrific, though the kids in the dirigibles were a bit distracting...

Partially because I already intended to try again, and partially because you're doing it, Middlemarch has moved up toward the top of the stack. Currently reading "Americanah" by Adichie. Pretty good so far, and I'm partial to immigrant narratives anyway.


mallorys_camera
Aug. 8th, 2018 11:17 pm (UTC)
Re: Cophrophagia
Many, many people who read this very LJ would disagree with you vehemently about Infinite Jest, but I am not one of them because as I say, I am much too LiteWait to attempt it. :-)
mexpatriot
Aug. 9th, 2018 05:13 am (UTC)
RE: Cophrophagia
I've never skimmed any book. I don't get that.

I dated a girl once who told me that she always read the end of the book/novel first. Deal breaker, that one. I liked her otherwise, but that was something I couldn't deal with.

Life is a mystery, and a novel is life. Things are revealed as time progresses. You have to wait.
lifeinroseland
Aug. 8th, 2018 10:24 pm (UTC)
You already have an outfit.

I thought Henry Miller left Anais Nin for June.
mallorys_camera
Aug. 8th, 2018 11:14 pm (UTC)
You already have an outfit.

I do?

I thought Henry Miller left Anais Nin for June.

No. He went to Paris because June got involved with a lesbian, which made him feel demasculated, plus you know Paris.

June subsequently went to Paris, too (without the lesbian), and Anais Nin—primed by Henry about what an amazing Sex Goddess June was—came on to her, and it was all very weird and creepy plus June didn't speak French. So she went back to NYC.

lifeinroseland
Aug. 8th, 2018 11:39 pm (UTC)
Oh. I’ve just read the part (in Anais words) when she’s really jealous of June coming around. That’s why I thought that.

Yeah that’s why the cashier at the cafeteria told me when I told her I was going to go get a dress for a date, but I didn’t listen.
mallorys_camera
Aug. 8th, 2018 11:53 pm (UTC)
You know how I dress! :-)

That's why I need a new outfit!

I've always disliked Anais Nin intensely. Her diary? Bor-r-r-r-ring! Her porn? Stooopid and not erotic. I've always hated writers who use the word "sex" for "vagina" or "pudenda."
lifeinroseland
Aug. 9th, 2018 01:05 am (UTC)
Oh cuz it’s a fancy place? Do you even have time?!
mallorys_camera
Aug. 9th, 2018 04:15 am (UTC)
I think I dissuaded him from the fancy place. Whew!

Now he has swung in the opposite direction and announced he will be wearing shorts and sandals. We're gonna meet at Fosters where you and I had lunch one time.
lifeinroseland
Aug. 9th, 2018 05:20 am (UTC)
In Cold Spring? Sit at the infinity booth!
mallorys_camera
Aug. 9th, 2018 03:31 pm (UTC)
Rhinebeck, actually. But yes—the Infinity Booth! :-)
mexpatriot
Aug. 9th, 2018 02:00 am (UTC)
There was a piece in Harper's years ago talking about what a dumbass is Terri Gross.
mallorys_camera
Aug. 9th, 2018 04:15 am (UTC)
Whatever.

I like her a lot and think she's a great interviewer.
mexpatriot
Aug. 9th, 2018 05:09 am (UTC)
Well, that you listen to NPR at all...

Agree to disagree? Still pals? :)
mallorys_camera
Aug. 9th, 2018 03:31 pm (UTC)
Oh, of course. :-)
( 21 comments — Leave a comment )