South and West: From A Notebook by Joan Didion:
When I read Gertrude Atherton I think not only of myself but of Patricia Hearst, listening to Carousel in her room on California Street.
The details of the Atherton life appear in the Atherton fiction, or the details of the fiction appear in the autobiography: it is difficult to say which is the correct construction. The beds of Parma violets at the Atherton house dissolve effortlessly into the beds of Parma violets at Maria Ballinger-Groome Abbott’s house in Atherton’s The Sisters-in-Law. Gertrude’s mother had her three-days “blues,” as did one of the characters in Sleeping Fires. Were there Parma violets at the Atherton house? Did Gertrude’s mother have three-day blues?
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