Thursday, March 14, 2024

the last book I ever read (My Death by Lisa Tuttle, excerpt four)

from My Death by Lisa Tuttle:

I was unprepared for this interview in more ways than one.

Yesterday I had discovered that my cassette recorder, which had seen me through more than ten years of occasional interviewing, was no longer working. I’d driven off to Oban immediately to buy one, only to find that the electronics shop I’d remembered had closed down—driven out of business, I guessed, by the stacks of cut-price VCRs, DVD players, printers, personal stereos, and telephones on sale in the aisles of Tesco. Alas for me, Tesco did not sell cassette recorders—players, yes, but nothing with a recording function. The closest equivalent I’d been able to find after searching every store in town was a toy for young children. It was the size of a school lunch-box and made of bright red and yellow plastic; with a bright blue microphone attached to it by a curly yellow cord. But it worked, and so I’d bought it.

Now, though, I knew I couldn’t possibly arrive for my first meeting with Helen Elizabeth Ralston clutching this children’s toy. In any case, she hadn’t agreed to an interview; I hadn’t even spoken to her yet. I couldn’t remember if I’d told her daughter that I was planning to write a biography, but I was pretty sure I’d said only that I admired her mother’s work and wanted to talk to her about it. Best if this first meeting should be informal, relaxed, a friendly conversation. Questions “for the record” could come later.

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