Friday, April 16, 2021

the last book I ever read (My Autobiography of Carson McCullers: A Memoir by Jenn Shapland, excerpt five)

from My Autobiography of Carson McCullers: A Memoir by Jenn Shapland:

Carson wasn’t comfortable in New York at first. Her roommate, a student at Columbia, had a boyfriend and was never home. On her way back to the room one day, a man came up the stairs behind Carson. He “tried to put his arms around me but I pushed him away so violently that he ricocheted against the wall,” she recalls. “So I was stuck there in that lonely room with a sense of menace and a fear of strange men. [In the daytime I’d go to Macy’s and just sit in the telephone booth where I knew I was safe. Then back to the horror of a sleepless night.]” She moved to women’s group housing at the Parnassus Club, then the Three Arts Club, and found sleep more easily surrounded by other creative women. I flashed back to my own six-month stint in New York, a semester at NYU my sophomore year of college, when I thought I’d finally find my people, my life, and everything I wanted that had yet to surface at my small, preppy Vermont school. Instead, I showed up in the city in Birkenstocks and knew immediately that I was on my own. I spent all my days alone in coffee shops and on benches and taking long, slow walks. I was queer but closeted. I mailed arduous letters to my girlfriend, abroad in Athens. I spent a lot of time at the Strand. I remember it as the loneliest time of my life.

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