Saturday, April 17, 2021

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

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

Slowly I settled in, though there were things about living in a museum that were not totally comfortable or clear. I kept taking long, migraineous naps on the couch where the director told me Carson wrote Clock Without Hands, a mod white sofa that is allegedly grimy—I didn’t remove the slipcover to see. The couch appears in a photo of Carson taken by Cecil Beaton. She’s stretched out in her embroidered vest holding her cane. I didn’t even know if I was supposed to sit on it—or on any of the furniture—but there really wasn’t anywhere else to sit. Yet only a few years prior, working in an archive, I handled the belongings of writers, Carson included, wearing white gloves and tissue paper. I got a quilt from the closet—hers? I hoped not—and within a week I was sleeping and eating dinner and watching movies on the couch. I watched Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and other burned DVDs Chelsea sent me in the mail from her collection, annotated with Post-it notes: “Classic—academic horrorshow—brilliant—60s.” The movie made me feel a little glum about relationships; the two are so horrible to each other, and I kept thinking about Carson and Reeves. I rented Reflections in a Golden Eye, the movie made of Carson’s second novel right before she died, and laughed out loud at the absurd last shot. The camera flashes back and forth from one character to another after Elizabeth Taylor’s gay husband shoots the private he’s been obsessed with throughout the film—the private who, meanwhile, had been sneaking into his bedroom to watch his wife sleep.

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