i thought telephone conversations in biography were an anomaly. which is why i wrote about this one:
As soon as they returned from Ithaca, however, Jackie began to pack her bags and prepare to leave for New York.
“Caroline and John need me to help them get ready for the new school year,” she explained to Ari.
“Your husband needs you, too,” he said.
“I know you do, Telis,” she said. “But gosh, I’ll only be gone a month.”
After she was gone, Ari phoned his old friend Costa Gratsos.
“Aristo!” Gratsos said. “Where are you? What’s up?”
identifying it as an exceptional case. because i sincerely believed this was the most ridiculous thing ever and also that it was unique in its ridiculousness.
alas, no. this one- in another book- is maybe even better...
Next Jackie called her mother in Virginia. “Hi,” she said. “Are you free?”
“No, I’m not,” replied Janet Auchincloss. “I’m quite busy right now […]”
“Mummy, please, I want you to come to Greece.”
“How ridiculous, Jackie. I’ve got too much to do here.”
“I also want you to announce my engagement to marry Ari […]”
“Oh, God, Jackie. You can’t mean that,” screamed Mrs. Auchincloss. “You’re not really serious, are you? How can you do this? What about the children? Please, Jackie, I think you should—”
“Sorry, Mummy. It’s too late.”
the thing that has always been troubling about biography and writing critically about it is that it's impossible not to wind up committing all the sins you critique. this is a reason for writing meta-biography rather than straight biography- sticking solely in the critic camp, rather than traversing back and forth, saves you from looking like a hypocritical ass. (you still maybe look like an ass, but not a hypocritical one at least.)
no one answers the phone in my book.
no one says, "sorry, mummy. it's too late."
i'm wonder if perhaps this isn't a grievous error. should there be more answering of phones in biography? because, good god, it sure is fun to read.