Cantwell’s memoir begins after she graduates from Connecticut College 1953 and moves to New York City to be a writer. She is a Catholic from a WASPy town in Rhode Island, but passes well enough. Her mother is not impressed when she marries a Jew fairly soon after graduating. But she’d slept with him, what could she do? I don’t mean to mock. On the outside Cantwell isn’t someone I can relate to, but the quality of her writing voice really got me, both its competence and its appeal, if that makes sense. It seems like the better the writing I’m reviewing the worse my own gets.
Tagged with 1950s
This is one of those not-a-novel novels: connected short stories told in multiple voices. The central character is Irene Wilson, a contemplative African-American coming of age in a negro area in Kansas City, Kansas around the same time someone named Brown was fixing to sue the Board of Education. I was dazzled by the first story, told in the first person by Irene, which takes place when she is in elementary school. The language is stylish and layered, and the characters deep and nuanced. I wish all of the stories had been by and about Irene, but the multiple voices are tolerable because it's not strictly a novel.
writes of her two year affair with mystery writer Patricia Highsmith who also wrote--as Claire Morgan--the lesbian romance (noted for its happy ending--not that kind of happy end, gutterbrain!) The Price of Salt.