Great day among writers

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I had a great day today speaking at the Pasadena Festival of Women’s books. Mona Simpson was there and she’s definitely a mental heavyweight. We chatted a bit after the event, and god, she’s impressive and she was dressed so elegantly. Lisa See was there, bright and cheery and very much holding her own. I love her books, but my favorites are Dragon Bones and Peony in Love.

No Violet Buluwayo held all of our hearts in her hands, I loved listening to her voice, and then we had Joyce Maynard. She talked about her relationship with J.D. Salinger which lasted for nine months when she was eighteen. Her mother dressed her in the replica of the outfit she’d worn as a first grader all ABC ruffles to attract the old man to the idea of being with a kid. She sat around at Salinger’s house reading TV Guide and dreaming of being famous and he got tired of her and kicked her out. She also couldn’t bear sex at the time. I could make so many comments here but in the interest of keeping this a PG rated blog, let me just say this. If you are the kind of old guy who likes being with eighteen year old girls, wouldn’t part of the point be the unlimited though not very good sex with a chick you could give orders to? If that chickie is going to be lying around with headaches, that’s just going to ruin the whole experience. Personally, I want skills and availability. Joyce Maynard combines vulnerability and astute awareness of her own effect on her surroundings. She’s a very interesting person and writer.

We had dinner tonight at Dragos with Ron Carlson– good food and good conversation. I am always glad to see him, and I’m such a huge fan of his work. We talked about Ray Carver, one of my favorite subjects. I always like turning around in my head what Ray Carver means to American literature. “The water began to boil as the phone began to ring,” Carver writes and so launches a story about a man visiting his ex wife. At some point, he explains that his key is broken off in the front door lock and that he needs to go in the back door. He finds the leftover turkey sitting on the table after Christmas, “as if in a horrible nest.” When she gets ready to leave, he questions, “Are you still taking flute lessons.” And that sums up so much overstatement and under statement.

Ask yourself, “Are you happily married? Are you still taking flute lessons?”

Published in: on March 7, 2015 at 10:26 pm  Comments (1)  

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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. It was nice seeing you yesterday, Kate. I really enjoyed your remarks, and the four other women are so impressive as well.

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