Sunday, February 14, 2016


So even as the Heavens orchestrate what should happen at the Supreme Court, the minds of Americans lock.  Hillary stumbles into an even worse furrow, Saturday Night Live making hilarious mince of her, and Trump emerges as even a worse bully than non-admirers imagined.  It is all sort of sad, albeit engaging, though I cannot see Bernie defeating whoever will be the Republican, no matter how ill-selected.  I have trouble with the best of them's mouth. Okay, I'm superficial, but that seems a good thing to be the way it's been going.
     I am having the experience of soft-cover Narcissism.  Somehow I have come into possession of a copy of Naked in Babylon, my first novel, written under the aegis of the literary critic of the Los Angeles Times when I was still a girl, Robert Kirsch.  Betty Garrett, the super-talented and great-hearted performer who would have been an actual star if they'd given her better parts, wife of Larry Parks, who'd played Al Jolson and would have been a super-star except they made him confess to a brief toe-tap with Communism and his career was over, took a writing class with him and brought him in to see me at the Purple Onion.  We became friends, or so it seemed at first, and he said I should write a novel.  So I did.  Very quickly, and he wrote to a number of publishers saying it was the best first novel he had read in fifteen(maybe it was 10) years of reviewing.  Even with that, nobody wanted it for over two years, maybe because it was about Hollywood, and when it was finally published it was marketed sexily, which probably offended my creative soul, as I had thought-- probably hoped-- it was a real novel.
      Then Kirsch began to think he was a novelist, and wrote something incredibly sappy and had an affair, I believe he thought it was, with a student I'd brought to him.  Or maybe it was Dennis Hopper, my then seventeen-year-old actor friend who schtupped Kirsch's wife.  ("Are you very ashamed of me?" she asked when she talked about it with me.  I don't remember that I was.  I think all I was was still stunned when people had sex out of wedlock, especially when they were wedlocked to my writing teacher.)
      I must have bought this paperback copy from the Squirrel Hill Happening in July of 1989, -- there's a dated bookmark coupon inside.  That must have been when I was making my speaking tour, at least to Pittsburgh.  Oh, what a hopeful and excited time that must have been, when there was still a prospect of my becoming a major American novelist, before I fell into disrepute and disrepair with my landmark libel suit, now pretty much forgotten and set aside but not so that period of my life could be restored and re-drafted.  Everybody involved then is dead and gone with the exception of Philip Roth who wouldn't support me, flourished and rose to great heights, but never wrote from the heart, though always quite brilliantly from the penis.
        It is so strange to read from one's first novel, all these books into the wind, years having passed since I wrote anything but this blog which I probably wouldn't have written if I'd known that was what it would be called.  Such a stupid word.
        I see where the content of this long-ago book was the furor in Hollywood over the death of Jimmy Dean who I'd made into a fictional character named Johnny King.  I don't know why I hadn't just called him Jimmy Dean.  I suppose I hadn't realized that the dead don't sue.  But if I had understood what could happen to you when you were the center of a landmark libel case in fiction, where people lied and the judge didn't like your lawyer, I might have simply continued my career as a songwriter.  I was really pretty good, and I did have Irving Berlin's birthday.