The very first words of Gore Vidal’s foreword to Alfred Chester’s collected stories (Head of a Sad Angel
Although it has been my misfortune to have at practically all the noted American writers of the last half century, I did have the great good luck never to have so much as glimpsed Alfred Chester….
It’s that time of year, my dears, where I’m about to head off to foreign parts for what’s known in various circles as “vacation,” “holidays,” or “days spent without LCD bathing.” I can’t believe it, either, actually, and am not sure I’ll be able to pull off things like “relaxing” and “not having much of anything to do,” which have only existed as very high level concepts in my foggy head. And there are so many things lined up when I return that I’ll probably never ever take time off again, which could be good for you, if your ears are burning. I’ll do the big reveal of a few of those things as soon as I return…
I know; this is two posts in a row that make direct mention of ladies’ underthings. I have three very good reasons for this:
A disclaimer for you on this happy June that will become self-evident soon enough: I love this story. I could read it a thousand times over and give you a thousand different insights. I love it in the peepish and borderline obsessive way its narratrice experiences love. Love it, in its own words, “as a mouse might love the hand that cleans the cage, and as uncomprehendingly, too, for surely I see only a part of him here.” …
Last week’s New Yorker magazine included a series of letters written by Saul Bellow to other writers. I’ve often thought epistolary exchange between writers to be the most nettly of writing, both the most effusive and the most sincere, the most pretentious and the most vein-splittingly self-conscious. It’s hard
I have a good excuse to spare you my blathery scrawl about the show-stopping beauty in this story — the hot cats at Electric Literature have done so in a flashier way, and before you even tap the PLAY button on your baubly mp3 players, you ought to watch this:
I can think of nothing more apt for the rounding-out of a year than a fleeting little fable on outplaying inevitability. If you’re anything like me, Inevitability is one collector you’ve managed to send off-course at least once this year, and that itself is cause for champagne. Happy New Decade to all, but especially to those who continue to believe relentlessly in the potential of literature.
There was a time when I was little (and I was so cute, and so little!) when I wanted to be Jane Bowles. I was obsessed with the puppet show, unhealthily so, though thinking back now, I can’t think of any self-respecting adult who’d have introduced such a cute little thing to it.
I’m more than a little eager to introduce this bit of Jean Stafford– in fact, the last time I was this eager, I was about to jump out of an airplane, an activity I was undertaking using age-faked identification, which was, to the best of my memory, the only time I’ve ever vomited directly onto the feet of an airplane pilot (the pilot then said this wasn’t the first time his feet had taken ablutions this way). And wait, I don’t mean to conflate Jean Stafford with my own underage retching.
So I have this tendency, as you may have noticed, to take a sharp left at matters of personal divulgences, which is a difficult thing to pull off today, given the severity and somber-ity of a story like this one. But so, okay, here you go, three very revealing facts about my own self to accompany a story of introspect and plaintivity and other words existent and non-: