and yet I feel so drawn to the life and work of Carson McCullers, again, so I supposed redrawn. I am so glad I was not redrawn to the life and work of Carson McCullers while finishing the mss. of HEROINES which is TURNED IN (!) on the very same day as my sister gave birth, in fact, after an almost 9 month gestation of a rewrite on my part. It made me ponder things like the metaphor of birth when dealing with writing books, and how this is further complicated when you are a woman. I am glad I was not redrawn because I always want to throw everything into everything I write, like a pot of soup or something. In fact, the day I turned in the mss. Megan Fox announced she was removing her Marilyn Monroe tattoo because Marilyn Monroe "was bipolar and had personality disorders" and I felt at the time that was PERFECT to what I was writing towards in the end, and so I had to somehow plug that in. I am going to go see my baby niece in New York tomorrow, and I want to reread everything by Carson McCullers. But all the bookstores here don't have her. It's terrible. She's canonical, Carson, isn't she? Should be if not. I want to reread Member of the Wedding which I read when I was 16 - and blew my fucking head off - all I remember is the cover with the girl with the shorn bright red hair and how it clashed with her quaint pink dress and a mood, something like a burning melancholy. And I reread a few years ago The Heart is a Lonely Hunter and the Ballad of the Sad Cafe and I want to read that novel that was made into the movie with Brando, what is it called again.
I think I'm drawn to her especially because in the narrative of her timeline her illnesses are always highlighted (she suffered from rheumatic fever, pleurisy, a series of strokes), and I'm wondering how the narrative of illness, that trajectory, infected and impacted and altered her writing, and it's something I've been thinking about, the idea of the Southern grotesque as written by women that seems so based in the body, and two of my favorite practitioners, Flannery O'Connor and Carson McCullers, suffering from auto-immune illnesses that are persistent, pernicious, and absolutely mysterious (O'Connor with lupus, McCullers with a cluster of things), something I am beginning to know a bit of myself, and I have been thinking of the body and the sick body and how the sick body can write and how an altered body, a different body, a more daily suffering body, can somehow channel that through the texts, with characterization, mood - how? I don't have a handle on it yet. Which makes me think of Jane Bowles stroked out in Malaga, Spain, and Clarice Lispector writing The Hour of the Star while dying. Or Barbara Loden unable to finish her screenplay for The Awakening because she too was dying. I would like to write an essay about all this but I don't feel strong enough. You must be strong enough to be able to meditate, to access, although the experience sometimes - of weakness, of alteration, of suffering - I feel sure does something to break through into a consciousness that can be something like making art. I don't know if any of this makes sense. This is what I have been thinking - or more like feeling lately. These reflections more felt than thought. But we are always told - admonished - not to write about illness and the abject body. Told that that is bad. I remember when I found out my mother was diagnosed with Stage Late Late Lung Cancer and dying and everything and the word metastatic could also be used to describe how immense and engulfing my grief was, growing, growing, threatening to swallow me whole, and I remember sitting in the car with a fellow coworker at the alt-weekly where I was an editor at the time, a guy writer who always tried to Svengali me despite my resistence -and I remember him saying - as a way to comfort me - Just don't write a book about cancer. Can you believe that? My experiences were already commodified for him in a potential experience to cull from, and he had already deemed the truth of my mother's body, the truth of my body, a cliche, invalid, so to speak.
And I'm in bed with my mango kimono typing this and looking up Carson McCullers online instead of showering and getting ready to get my haircut and I have to leave in like 15 minutes. I always do this - wait wait until the last minute, when I have to go somewhere.