Monday, June 22, 2015

the last book I ever read (Sally Mann's Hold Still: A Memoir with Photographs, excerpt one)

from Hold Still: A Memoir with Photographs by Sally Mann:

The young novelist Carson McCullers, burdened by the meteoric success of The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter and recovering in Lexington, was once hauled out of a bathtub at a mutual friend’s house, fully clothed, drenched, and drunk, by my mother. Thinking about it now, it’s probably a good thing that my mother is not around to receive the unwelcome news that her oft-told stories about Edward Albee writing Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? while in Lexington are likely apocryphal. Not only that, but she said he did so in a cottage on the grounds of my childhood home, Boxerwood, while visiting its occupant James Boatwright. I’m pretty sure her assertion that the Albee characters George and Martha had been based on a local faculty couple famous for their bickering and alcohol consumption is incorrect, too, but that probably wouldn’t stop her even now from deliciously persevering with it. Besides, it’s still believable to me, for I well remember the sounds of the drinking and bickering during Boatwright’s late-night literary parties at the cottage drifting down to my open bedroom windows during the early sixties.

The eye-filling Reynolds Price visited Boatwright often (as did, at various times, Eudora Welty, Mary McCarthy, and W. H. Auden), and on the night I attended my first prom at age fourteen, he and Boatwright emerged from the screen porch to drunkenly toast me, calling me Sally Dubonnet, a term I find baffling even today, as their gin rickeys sloshed over the glasses.

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