Saturday, March 4, 2017

the last book I ever read (Mary Astor's Purple Diary, The Great American Sex Scandal of 1936, excerpt one)

from Mary Astor's Purple Diary: The Great American Sex Scandal of 1936 by Edward Sorel:

This seems as good a time as any to explain how Eddie Schwartz morphed into Edward Sorel. You can see why on so many levels I had to rebel against my father, so after I landed my first good-paying job ($85 a week) at Esquire magazine, I decided to have my last name legally changed. I chose Sorel because I had read Stendahl’s The Red and the Black, that nineteenth-century novel about an ambitious bounder who is catnip to women and rises socially beyond his provincial upbringing. Like me, Julien Sorel hated his father, the clergy, and the corrupt society of his time. Even the fact that he ended up guilltotined appealed to me. Surely I’d end up the same, considering all the left-wing committees I was on during the McCarthy hysteria. Although plainly I wasn’t beheaded, I did get a visit from an FBI agent in 1959 after I published a few issues of Sorel’s Affiche.

The Affiche was a broadside in which I satirized anything that came into my head, usually of a political nature. For the first two issues I asked my friend Warren Miller to write the text. Warren, a well-known novelist, had once been a member of the Communist Party, like many of my older friends. That may explain what happened after the second issue of Sorel’s Affiche was mailed to hundreds of art directors in New York.

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