A big corporation asks me to do a live performance since the one I gave in real life went well. This time I do not feel engaged enough to do a good job. I’ve brought along some index cards but can’t find them in my purse and every time I stop to dig for them I lose my thread and audience so I plod on. Everything and everybody is twitching. The crowd and I are standing in a big drafty old factory floor that’s not quite been transformed into something else. It’s the kind of building that used to abound in the West 30s and 40s when I first moved to New York. I am rambling while worrying idly that I’m not worrying when the roof begins to crumble and then bursts into flames. Again, I think, since the roof of Chelsea Market burst into flames earlier this month as I was getting fired. Everyone runs out but me and a tall woman with beautiful arms and copper skin and eyes. She and I are detached, watching the drama unfold. Then we turn to each other and Continue Reading →
It was the newly renovated Quad Cinema, and I’d scored a ticket because I was presenting the Emily Dickinson film, “A Quiet Passion,” to a cinema club later in the week. Normally I would not be spending such a beautiful afternoon indoors, but I’d had a terrible writing morning—the sort that robs one of all confidence and joy—and I was keen to get out of my house, neighborhood, and head, in that order.
The new Quad seemed a lot like the old Quad, down to ticketing confusion and the long, skinny screening rooms with tiny screens, but the seats were more comfortable and the film, a stately swoon. I settled into the story that had begun 20 minutes before my arrival, and tried to block everything out.
Dickinson was bright and glaring in her strong tempers, with the knit brow and bitten lip of a nineteenth-century woman heeding too many wrong lessons. She and her kin bickered against the austere backdrop of their Amherst estate, and I sat back against red cushions and exhaled in pleasure. This was not the New England of so many films-forbidding and confined to a palette of greys and more greys. This was the New England I long for 25 years after emigrating to New York: amused and amusing, with bursts of colors so extravagant that there’s no point in competing with your own person. Continue Reading →