Truth? Memory?

Well, I finished my book on Everest. I enjoyed it, brave men and that Mallory, wow.

Personally I’m sure he made it to the summit.

 One of my weirder obsessions.

Today, was a gorgeous day in Montreal,

 and since the lovely lady I’m dating works on Sunday’s,

 I went to the Jazz Festival.

 One of my customers was performing with his Big Band.

 A breeze, a very civilized crowd, The Jazz Fest brings out the best in Montreal.

 I’m feeling much better, the moon is no longueur full and my crazy hormones seem to be,

 less crazy.

Still in a bit of a slump book wise, usually I have a pile waiting.

I have a pile but, I’m not so sure what to read.

While at the bookstore on Saturday, I started reading a book by Anthony Arthur ,

Literary Feuds: A century of celebrated quarrels from Mark Twain to Tom Wolfe.

I figured how could I go wrong at the very least I’ll learn something,

 a tidbit to be used in dazzling  conversation.

The first section I chose to read is the feud between Lillian Hellman and Mary McCarthy.

Lillian Hellman, was a very successful playwright in her day,

 most lesbians are familiar with her work,


 The Children’s Hour.

Today, she is not as appreciated as her mostly male contemporaries, Tennessee Williams and Arthur Miller and all.

Her plays were ok, if you see The Little Foxes playing on the late show and you have nothing else to do,

 it’s worth a watch.

 But, Miller and Williams are definitely better.

The reason I started with this section, is that I have always had a thing for Hellman.

When I was a teenager I picked up one of her books, used, probably cost me a quarter.

It was a memoir, An Unfinished Woman. I liked the title, I liked that she was a tough broad

who lived for years  with a tough guy writer, Hammett.

Over the course of many years I read all her memoirs.

Pentimento, a section of which was turned into the movie, Julia,

starring Jane Fonda and Vanessa Redgrave.

 I also read Scoundrel Times,  about the Hollywood communist witch hunt that was The House Un-American Activities Committee.

I admired Hellman’s grit, her live by her own rules attitude to life, the woman had courage and principles.

Or so I thought.

Mary McCarthy was a celebrated critic in her day and an altogether forgettable novelist.

Her most famous work is, The Group, I read this book, I had heard there was a lesbian character in it.

In those days I was starved for any lesbian representation, even fleeting.

In 1979, McCarthy stated on the Dick Cavett Show that Hellman was an over-rated and dishonest writer.

Hellman sued. A long legal battle ensued.

After years of litigation it turns out that most of what Hellman wrote in Scoundrel Times and large parts of Pentimento

specifically the Julia story,

 were is some cases gross exaggerations, in others all out lies.

This freaked me out a little and then,

I started to think how memory often plays tricks on all of us.

Can we really be counted on to remember accurately?

I think Hellman probably embellished as we all do, she would have been better off calling them novels,

much safer and more “truthful”.

Memory, truth and the tumbling off their pedestals of our heroes and heroines.

That’s what I have been thinking about.

Later Girls


Monday, date with an angel, I hope her cold is better.

By Bookish Butch

I am a bookish butch in my mid early fifties. I live in Montréal and always have. I used to run a small used bookstore. Reading keeps me sane. My latest jiggie is photography, book project in the works, living the dream


  1. Hey, Caroline, great post about writers, and love the info about Hellman, she too was one of my favs as a youngster. I must go back and do some re-reading based on what you’ve told me here. Amazing how a new light brings a different perspective.

    Glad things are going well with your new love. Have a great week and, I’ll try to post on my blog later today about my weekend. 🙂

  2. We have so many things in common, Hellman, our love of Kates, now if I can get you to like hockey–I may propose marriage.
    Just kidding but, I do so enjoy your feedback. 🙂

  3. Come on, Caroline, two out of three things in common isn’t bad. I’m not sure I even understand hockey, so you might have to try and persuade me on that one…or get women to play it, then I might take a second look.

    You know you’re buttering up my ego with hugs and kisses for my birthday, and now? A proposal too! Keep up the flattery, I could get use to that. 🙂

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