Friday, January 7, 2011


This is the actress Louise Brooks in The Canary Murder Case. Her tail was detachable on her costume so she could sit down. The past days I have been reading obsessively about dancers who later became writers, women who were undisciplined and then so disciplined and then - cracked underneath all the internal and external pressures - and should be reading more - the past two days Zelda's Save Me the Waltz, her ballet obsession novel, the novel that reflects brilliantly on marriage and women and art and identity, and this morning I rereread Lulu in Hollywood, the actress/femme fatale Louise Brooks' erudite and witty essays on her Hollywood past. Louise was also a dancer, moved to New York with the Denishawn troupe, later became a Ziegfield girl, then a Hollywood screen siren, then a femme fatale for Weimar cinema (playing within these films always a dancer or showgirl), later a hermit and writer. This makes me want to rereread Colette's The Vagabonde, her novel about love and loss and being a showgirl traveling through France, and Jean Rhys' Voyage in the Dark, her novel about love and breakdown and being a chorus girl traveling through England, and then today I am rereading Sally Cline's biography of Zelda that examines her more as an artist, and then I also have on my kitchen table the swarthy biography of Lucia Joyce (the daughter of James, also a dancer, like Zelda she studied under the Diaghiliv tradition with former Russian ballerina Madame Egorova, also like Zelda went mad (was driven mad?), was institutionalized). I'm now thinking of Vivien(ne) too who liked to dance - Bertrand Russell paid for her lessons.

This is all to say that I am terrified to see Black Swan. I am reading too many real-life horror stories.