Sunday, April 25, 2021

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

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

The year Clock was published, Mary quietly divorced her husband, Ray. Carson and Mary traveled together to visit friends—Edwin and John in Charleston, Mary Tucker in Virginia, and Edward Albee on Fire Island, where he and Carson worked on a stage production of The Ballad of the Sad CafĂ©. Albee wrote each morning for four hours, then, at night, returning from walking the beach, he read aloud to Carson and Mary. He read Samuel Beckett’s Happy Days and his own Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and the first act of Ballad. One of the major obstacles to staging Ballad was the question of Amelia’s motivations. Albee asked Carson for an explanation: “What went on upstairs when Marvin Macy tried to get in bed with Miss Amelia? Was Miss Amelia a lesbian? According to Albee, Carson wanted this left ambiguous.

Carson held a now-famous lunch for Marilyn Monroe, Arthur Miller, and Karen Blixen (pen name Isak Dinesen), a friend to whom she’d been writing for years, at her house in Nyack. She served oysters and champagne, the only things Blixen would eat at the time. Writing to Mary, who was traveling during the festivities, she says how she missed her at the party, that it was a day they would have relived together in their golden years. When Carson traveled, Mary came to meet her at the airport, the contemporary definition of love.

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