Tuning Up - Spring 2017

(Full Disclosure)

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Conflicts, more or less of interest

Thomas Hawk/Flickr

By Ann Beattie

March 6, 2017


 

 

“Mr. Jagger explodes onstage with his characteristic kick-your-heels-against-the-moon brilliance, his abilities undiminished by time. (Full disclosure: I once dated one of Mr. Jagger’s daughters.) Mr. Richards, whose autobiography was reviewed earlier in this publication [ed. note: Nov. 4, 2010], might be considered Mr. Jagger’s mindful alter ego Catcher in the Rye, as Mr. Richards’s web of musical complexity spins out in ever wider, dreamcatcher-like constructions as years go by (that’s ‘years,’ not ‘tears’).”

* * *

“Although Justice Thomas had no responsibility to meet with the Girl Scouts, Justice Sotomayor’s absence, due to a United Airlines delay (full disclosure: she and I once shared the same piano teacher), necessitated, he felt, a few minutes with the troop, sampling an assortment of cookies in chambers and posing for photographs.”

* * *

“In our test kitchen, the recipe’s results did not vary, but at home, where I twice prepared this recipe that was nonetheless pronounced delicious by all the guests, the graininess of the dough resulted in a too chewy crust (the cookbook’s author and I once attended the same tai chi class).”

* * *

“Officer Brown, known in the neighborhood for wearing Speedo goggles in snowstorms, as well as for his jowly-cheeked joviality (he and I were once part of the same class-action lawsuit), kept the details of his bequest private, so it was only upon the reading of the will that news of the money allocated for the community swimming pool was made public.”

* * *

“Certainly a writer can take liberties in fiction, but the intrusion of an invented dialect, when a native patois already exists in all its multifarious suggestivity and complexity, makes one wonder (I was once engaged to this author) why simple appropriation would not be a better solution.”

* * *

“Though the tale of the dog dried in the microwave may be an urban legend, it nevertheless speaks to our fear of blundering when confronting technology, as well as expressing many a cat’s dearest wish (my own dog died this week of natural causes).”

* * *

“Though yours truly had never before attended Fashion Week, he decided to comply with the request that he join a small group of journalists unfamiliar with the rigors and rituals of designers presenting their spring collections. Though at press time I have been unable to verify this information, I was entranced by a gold clip on one model’s vest, said to have been made by Boucheron, of an upright, ruby-eyed fox striding forward with a large, raised, bushy gold tail. (On another personal note, in suburban Washington the fox population has
become something of a problem.)”

* * *

“History, as well as the shocking photographs taken on the scene, makes clear that the use of fire hoses and dogs by the police in Birmingham, Alabama, to keep the protesters at bay aroused the nation’s horror. (My former father-in-law spent the first three years of his life in Birmingham.) Thereafter, President Kennedy became the first American president to denounce segregation.”

* * *

“Though the chase scenes are chilling in their frenetic activity, it is the brilliant pairing of intellectual and physical stress (the screenwriter and I once saw the same psychiatrist) that explodes combustively, shattering us with insight at the same time we reflexively, physically recoil.”

* * *

“Upon reading page one of this first novel, the reader discovers that in Guadeloupe, the only languages spoken are French and Creole. While Creole is impossible to understand for anyone who does not know Creole, the French dialogue contains many American expressions, as well as punctuation marks that allow us to get the general sense of what’s going on, yet it’s obvious that, at best, we’re ‘reading’ only a portion of the book, as there is almost no narrative. Erecting these barriers may be the author’s intention, but what this strategy accomplishes remains unclear. The book—with a rumored high-six-figure advance—has been published simultaneously in the United Kingdom and the United States. An included press release informs us that the author will be making a seven-city tour. (I don’t envy the San Francisco Chronicle, as S.F. is the author’s first stop.)”

* * *

“In revisiting the role of Medea, Ms. Strangle downplays the character’s proclivities, while simultaneously suggesting with Kabuki-esque hand gestures the degree of her histrionic narcissism (the musical director and I once worked together at a dinner theater in Norwalk, Connecticut), which ignites in the second half of the play.”

* * *

“Dr. Pettibon cautions that allergic reactions may vary, so that a hornet sting on one occasion may differ from the reaction an individual may experience following a subsequent hornet sting. To quote Dr. Pettibon, ‘To be safe, carrying an EpiPen may be the best solution.’ (A personal note: an EpiPen left in a glove compartment over a New England winter may no longer be reliable.)”

* * *

“In spite of many bequests in recent years, not the least of which was the sum of $100 million left by Ms. Ruth Lilly to Poetry magazine, a random sampling of poets outside the New York metropolitan area suggests that opportunities for individual poets are still perceived of as being scarce (note: I once left a poetry manuscript with Ms. Lilly’s doorman), though others suggest that this is more a perceptual problem than a reality, as more poetry MFAs find jobs within the academic world.”


Ann Beattie whose latest book of stories is The Accomplished Guest, is the fiction editor of the Scholar.


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