Posted by Lizzie on 06/28/10
Carolyn Kellogg was kind enough to feature me in the LA Times Summer Reading series on their blog Jacket Copy. I recommended the collected stories of Elizabeth Hardwick, Katherine Anne Porter, and Katherine Mansfield, all of which I read the summer of 2000 on a fellowship in Prague (fancy):
LS: I didn’t notice it particularly at the time, but when I look back, I see that almost every story in each of the collections was about some alienated young woman alone in Europe, or some other foreign-seeming outpost. Turmoil and deprivation: Weimar Germany, Vichy France, etc. (I still can’t forget the one where a girl spends the summer on a farm with German immigrants, and the wives all stand behind their husbands and serve them from the back while they eat.) There’s also, of course, Katherine Anne Porter’s “Theft,” in which a mother steals a purse from a single woman who’s not quite able to connect with men for her daughter, who is younger and is. I can’t remember exactly what she says as she walks past her in the hallway — something like, “You don’t need it,” in this very intense way that indicates she knows what she’s doing is technically wrong but also philosophically right. It’s horrible.
JC: Have you returned to that place?
LS: I haven’t. I sometimes wonder what’s happened to it. I read all the books in this bar called Pod Lubim that had just opened next to the university, and this waiter was always bringing me Becherovka and asking me to tell him about what was in whatever book I was reading, which was difficult considering he spoke three words of English and I spoke no Czech. It was sort of a bizarre place — very sleek and modern, with very “arty” pictures of naked women all over the walls etc., but 35 cent Pilsner and surprisingly good food.
Okay, I literally found a pic of me and the waiter! I think his name was Milosz? He was very much with the pushing of the plum concoctions. As you can see I am reading Pat Conroy there, and NO ONE FANCY.
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