Archive | Book Matters

They Shoot Jewish Witches, Don’t They?

Last night I had dinner at a Truro restaurant, and encountered the particular strain of New England xenophobia that inspired me to leave the region decades before.

It annoys me that I feel compelled to report on what occurred. Soon I must jump back into my ADHD life in New York, and expending precious writing time on this topic feels like a microcosm of how our predator-in-chief siphons our energy by making it all about his ugly heart rather than the huge issues he should be managing. But that’s the thing, isn’t it? The hatred lurking everywhere in American life is leaping to the surface because it’s been endorsed at the top.

So here’s what happened. I had had an almost perfect day before that dinner. By 1 pm, I had written 3,000 words of a book section that had been giving me trouble. Then I’d headed over to the Provincelands, an extraordinary stretch of the Cape Cod National Seashore comprised of dunes and forests and ancient, still-inhabited shacks. I walked for miles in this extrarrestrial territory—all sand mountains, barreling blue sky, trees stubbornly growing sideways. I was dressed how I most like to dress—a loose skirt and trenchcoat, barefoot and pigtailed—and could not stop smiling. It was the first bright day all week, and I was fucking happy. Continue Reading →

The Hazards of Building a Bildungsrosman

One of the weirdest things about writing a book about my early life, which is what I mean when I call this memoir a bildungsrosman, is that there are days when I’m channeling my elementary school self or my mother at 16 or my dad at 26–people I’ve never met before, basically. Somedays this is interesting, others it’s plain devastating. Today’s one of the devastating times and it’s like I just watched the goodbye scenes in Terms of Endearment; ain’t no way I can hold back the tears pouring down my cheeks though I don’t even notice them until I feel wet on my cheeks and even then assume they’re springing from a leak in the ceiling. Metaphorically at least, this may not be so far from the truth. It’s all coming down.

The Dated “Looking for Mr. Goodbar”

There are films that ripen on the vine, and then there is “Looking for Mr. Goodbar,” Richard Brooks’s 1977 adaptation of the Judith Rossner novel inspired by a NYC schoolteacher killed by a one-night stand. It was a crime that seized national attention – for some, as a cautionary tale about women’s liberation; for others, as a case study in lethal misogyny. Rossner’s fictionalized account–lurid and lucid both–was such a critically touted bestseller that the term “Mr. Goodbar” became mainstream slang for a hot one-night stand. But while Brooks’s film also made bank, reviews were mixed. Viewed forty years later, you can see why. Its ambivalence about independent female sexuality makes for a jarring, fractured viewing experience if also a fascinating time capsule of the hypocrisies necessitating today’s #metoo revolution.

Fresh off the heels of her “Annie Hall” success, Diane Keaton stars as Theresa Dunn, roughly based on real-life victim Roseann Quinn. But while Keaton retains some of Annie’s daffiness, Theresa’s shadows live much closer to the surface; she’s haunted by her repressive Irish Catholic upbringing and a childhood scarred by scoliosis. When we meet her, she’s studying to become a teacher and sleeping with her married professor (Alan Feinstein), a pipe-puffing cad who sports the unfortunate male perm that was de rigueur in the late 1970s. While he struts in front of her classroom, she fantasizes about fucking him in a hot flash; the film is very big on psychosexual stills a la “Rosemary’s Baby” and “The Exorcist.” Continue Reading →

"All, everything I understand, I understand only because I love."
― Leo Tolstoy