17 November 2010

4 the sister

writing biography is like being blanche dubois. you've nothing except the kindness of strangers upon which to rely.

you hope they will remember. that they will talk. to you. that they will not die and take their secrets with them.

i'm writing a letter to the sister. the brother and the sister did not get along and the brother does not have the sister's address and so i am sending this letter to the sister to an address the brother gave me at which the sister's daughter may or may not still live in the hopes that it will reach the sister's daughter who will then pass my letter along to the sister and the sister will then write me back.

that's a whole heap of contingencies. particularly for a letter on which i forgot to include a return address.

i've written the sister before. seven years ago, i wrote her about this very thing. with my letter i included a list of 27 questions, most of them featuring separate bullet points. i pray she does not remember that. at this point, 10 seems a brazen liberty to take with someone's time.

the sister is endlessly fascinating. she inspires an admixture of slight pity and extreme awe.

i do not expect she will write back. but i've gotten rather accustomed to the receipt of famous mail and there's a part of me that's getting cocky, spoiled by the people who have written back, even if only to say they don't remember.

i want her to write back because she's The Sister and she may have biographically important things to say and blah blah blah.

but mostly, i want her to write back so i can have a piece of paper with that handwriting. the handwriting that is just a few genetic degrees removed from jackie's, which i know better than my own.


Osutein said...

This is why I could never be a biographer. While writing about spiders, I have become obsessed with them. When I see a spider, I can't help but stare at it, watch it, observe it. I spend a disturbingly large amount of time trying to imagine what it's like to be one. So, if I tried to write about an actual person, I would absolutely become a stalker.

oline said...

i'm not gonna lie. i feel like a horrible creep most of the time these days.

Dananator said...

We've got to read that book by A.S. Byatt - The Biographer's Tale .

oline said...

oh, a.s. byatt. the woman i still think is a man.