Sunday, June 23, 2013

The Biographer


   Writing Biography
   The Biographer
   Creating Biography
   Detective Fiction
   The Simple Art Of Biography


“To be some
other person
for a day”
—Amy Lowell,
“The Starling,”
A Dome of Many-
Colored Glass

It seems like forever—
this impenetrable wall
confining who I am

Living surreptitiously—
thru a rectangular hole
my scrolling window

It used to be very—
depressing, peering
out of me all the time

But Biography lets—
me be somebody else
for a little while anyway



“…my book is about biography 
as much as it is about Sylvia Plath”
—Carl Rollyson 

Sometimes it seems—
I’m more interested in 
writing about biography

Than doing biographies—
of different writers, poets,
actors and people

Writing biography—
studying how other
biographers write

Writing in itself—
seems to write


“I’m miserable 
when I can’t write.”
—Patricia Highsmith

Patricia Highsmith—
had to write or she
felt simply terrible

She was a Stranger—
a Stranger on a Train
who needed an Other

The same with Faulkner—
who simply gave up
writing for editors

When he started—
writing for himself
he became a writer


Writing the Other—
the biography of the
Stranger on a Train

Doing the Game—
that Ripley played
debonair Other

Teaching the Boy—
who Followed Tom
Ripley in Europe

The Talented—
Mister Ripley living
his new biography


Doing the Double—
Doppelganger as
Detective fiction

oneself as Other
like Highsmith did

Creating a series—
of Ripley doubles
through pulp fiction

Studying the way—
nom de plum begins
its own life


“Fiction in any form
has always intended 
to be realistic.”
—Raymond Chandler
The Simple Art of Murder

Reading Raymond Chandler’s—
“The Simple Art of Murder”
applied to Biography

Can be rather enlightening—
when it comes to writing
successful suspense fiction

Film is different though—
that’s why Hitchcock ditched
Chandler as Screenwriter

One wonders what Strangers—
on a Train would’ve been
like with Raymond Chandler?


“ruby, blood-deep; 
sapphire's ice resilience; 
emerald evergreen;
the shy pearl, humility”
—Carol Ann Duffy, 
“The Crown,” for the Sixtieth 
Anniversary of the Royal Coronation

My Tiara translates a mere queen —
my dears, into being a Queen Bee

Endless gold, choking on itself —
deep well full of faggy fathoms 

All those years to drown in —
fickle bride like Marilyn Monroe

Giving head so expertly —
such dutiful Penis Pageantry 

Knowing its blessed weight—
journeying from king to king

Blessed living Queen—
going down on the Treasure

Giving it the royal Treatment—
leaving Hickie for Halo

Not just one Head alone—
but decades of giving Head


“I’m miserable 
when I can’t write.”
—Patricia Highsmith

If I don’t write, I’m merely existing. I’m an obsessive gay writer, my poems and stories just boil up outta me. They come to me frequently like rats in the dark or suddenly like unexpected orgasms. I’m simply miserable—when I can’t write about things.

Writing is a way of being a voyeur—taking a peek through the keyhole of my imagination into the slimy, dirty, forbidden depths of my unconscious.

I don’t feel fully fleshed out with pity and irony—unless I’m writing. I really don’t like myself most of the time—unless I’ve lost or am losing myself in the travails of some film noir movie like STRANGERS ON A TRAIN or teenage drive-in horror film remake in my sick mind like I WAS A TEENAGE FRANKENSTEIN.

The unconscious for me is like the campy, weird and gothic movie THE HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL. It’s like Tom Ripley’s home near Fontainebleau—named ‘Belle Ombre’ or beautiful shadow. It’s like Vincent Price’s little surprise party for his guests—a macabre performance of the changeable nature of the double and shadowy splintered self.

Writing was always a near-mystical process for Highsmith, according to Andrew Wilson in his BEAUTIFUL SHADOW: A LIFE OF PATRICIA HIGHSMITH. Not exactly mystical for me—but more along the oneric lines of dreams lingering in my head as I wake up each day.

Usually it happens to me in the morning just when I’m waking up. Ideas about writing don’t really come out of thin air—but they’re more like half-forgotten memories or little pieces of fidgety faggoty flashbacks. 

They’re elusive like something flitting around nervously out of the corner of my eye. It’s like losing your billfold in some kind of strange, recurring dream—usually that’s a hint to me that I’m coming out of a place where I’ve lost my identity. Isn’t that what dreams are—wandering around in some strange but weirdly familiar place. And then while I’m waking up and slowly becoming conscious of myself again—sometimes I get an elusive somewhat closer fix on whatever or whoever I was in lost-billfold lost-identity dream.

Southern Gothicism with its insatiable appetite for the grotesque, the decadent, the macabre and the romance of decay—that seems to simulate my way of dreaming and thinking and writing, I suppose. 

I owe that kind of writerly sensibility Faulkner back there at LSU—when I was struggling through his novels like ABSALOM, ABSALOM and GO DOWN MOSES. 

Page by page—without any CLIFF’S NOTES to guide me. Only my gay intuition that I wanted to cultivate and let grow and somehow luxuriate there in that lush Yoknapatawpha rotting yammer of late night humid slitherings—snaking through the mind of queer Quentin Compson in bed with his Harvard roommate Shreve. 

As the two young men made love and had long conversations at night about the Deep South. How they’d have their own gay séance late at night—even communicating with handsome Bon the Beautiful Sutpen and his gay half-brother Henry Sutpen there in that other dormitory room a century earlier in bed with each other at Ole Miss in Oxford, Mississippi. 

Who needed to read the bleak existentialist writings of Dostoevsky, Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Kafka, Sartre or Camus—when one had William Faulkner at one’s fingertips? A Southern gentleman guide—talking to me calmly and slowly through his writing all the way from his moody antebellum Rowan Oaks mansion to me in my own LSU dormitory room late at night?

For so long I’d always seen the word FORBIDDEN written in red ink in everything I’d read—or the word STOP right there in the middle of anything that I’d write or type or think.

Dark fantasies had always nourished my nascent gay gothic imagination—along the tacky lines of TRUE CONFESSION, NATIONAL ENQUIRER and TRUE DETECTIVE stories. These pulp fiction stories and gossip articles suggesting murder, sex and violence. 

But I’d always thought and felt that I couldn’t write what I wanted to write. SUPPRESSION was the blank wall I kept running up against. 

It turned out after awhile there hanging around the Huey P. Long Fieldhouse swimming pool that during hot humid afternoons full of cruising and connecting in the showers—that actually Suppression wasn’t a wall at all, but rather a closet door that could be unlocked and opened just for me.

Up until then, I had been like closeted queer Henry Sutpen—a country bumpkin compared to the suave, sophisticated Big Easy cumly Creole culture of Bon the Beautiful. 

I’d been a closeted queer Quentin Compson—stranded and horribly, absolutely marooned in my own flat so-called-straight desert. Without any emotional signposts or enlivening hotspots or secret Fernando’s getaways.

Places that transcended all the usual boring confines, creating some kind of a new more-aware life to live. A waking life with emotional connections to who I was and wanted to be. 

Even though SANCTUARY was just a pulp fiction pot-boiler written to pay the bills according to Faulkner—reading It was like rediscovering the suspense genre all over again. Popular paperback drugstore bus-station fiction back then—wasn’t supposed to work on me that way. 

But like Faulkner’s ABSALOM, ABSALOM and GO DOWN MOSES as well as his other novels—they did the trick. Turning me inside out and upside-down—never ever to be the same again.

Getting high on READING—then getting high on WRITING.

No comments:

Post a Comment