09 December 2016

0 The Author

i cannot find it.

and i think, ohmygodohmygodihavelostit and that seems like the greatest tragedy In The World.

and then i think, it must be with norman mailer, but it is not with norman mailer and that makes everything worse because if it is not with norman mailer then i do not know where it is.

i live in a studio that is like 6 ft. wide. it is impossible that i could lose a hardback book in so small a space. it is here. i simply cannot find it.

what i want to know is when i read it.

this was back in the days when i inscribed my name and the date of purchase in the front page of every book i owned. and also, often, my reason for buying it. i am nearly certain it was sept/oct 2005, though i do not remember why. i am counting on the fact that, when i find it, it will tell me for sure.

i want to be sure because the memory is very specific.

it was when i was living with donovan. it was when he was not coming home. and what i remember is lying in bed, waiting for him whilst i was reading this book.

but deep down, i know that version of events is untrue.

for i am nearly certain i read this book when the bed was against the west wall of the room.

the bed was on the east wall of the room when he stopped coming home.

a detail which means this was likely around the time of katrina, that i was reading this book. that i was likely waiting for him to come home and he did come home. that we had not yet reached the time when he didn't.

regardless, reading this book was memorable enough that i've a specific memory of reading it, though i do not know that i realized it was a masterpiece then. nor could i begin to imagine i would be proposing three year projects having to do with it a decade on.

when i read wayne koestenbaum's jackie under my skin, it was like dorothy being transported to oz. my response to this book was subtler. slower. sticking with the oz metaphors, i was on the yellow brick road though i did not know it. something had begun which i had not the eyes to see yet. the yellow blended in.

i was coming out of jude's flat after breakfast some weeks ago when i checked my email. and there was a message from my supervisor forwarding a message from her publisher saying they needed help with a certain manuscript. a manuscript by the author whose book on elizabeth taylor i lay in bed reading, twelve years ago, while waiting for donovan to come home.

i ran into this author two years ago, at a garden party in kensington (albeit not the one where the woman in denim danced). at which i discovered she is one of the handful of people whom i am incapable of discussing without throwing my hand upon my heart.

and when i told her how much i loved the elizabeth taylor book, she thanked me and said that was nice to hear because it was universally hated otherwise. a response that simultaneously made me terribly sad for her and terribly worried for my future as a writer of nonfictional avant garde.

when the publisher asked then, of course, i said, yes, yes, yes, anything for her. because her work is important. because this is a project she pursued to take her mind of her husband's death a few years ago. and because she has alzheimer's now.

but also because, all those years ago, when i was a girl who didn't know who she was and had no sense of the possibilities of what she might do with her life, a girl who felt trapped and invisible, lying around memphis waiting for a man as the remnants of a hurricane raged outside, this author- this american who lived in london and wrote about stars- her book about elizabeth taylor kept me company, her words somehow made me feel both valuable and seen.

(fyi, three weeks later, and i've still not located this book in my teeny tiny flat.)

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