|Photo Credit: Wenjun Miakoda Liang for Interview Magazine|
On Sunday I am interviewing Molly Antopol, author of The UnAmericans and total literary badass. I am not nervous at all.
|Photo Credit: Jean Rhys, 1974 by Bill Brandt|
• Start a diary, focus on describing the minutiae of daily life: needs to be remembered
• Look for novels based on fictionalized portrayals of actual historic figures: re-read Curtis Sittenfeld's American Wife?
• Read all of Joan Didion: especially fiction, for narrative infused with style/fashion without being superficial.
• Read Muriel Spark
• READ JEAN RHYS
|Photo Credits: Sunday Alamba for the Associated Press|
I am now 36 years old. During my most recent book tour, I wore, for the first time, clothes that made me happy. My favorite outfit was a pair of ankara-print shorts, a damask top, and yellow high-heel shoes. Perhaps it is the confidence that comes with being older. Perhaps it is the good fortune of being published and read seriously, but I no longer pretend not to care about clothes. Because I do care. I love embroidery and texture. I love lace and full skirts and cinched waists. I love black, and I love color. I love heels, and I love flats. I love exquisite detailing. I love shorts and long maxidresses and feminine jackets with puffy sleeves. I love colored trousers. I love shopping. I love my two wonderful tailors in Nigeria, who often give me suggestions and with whom I exchange sketches. I admire well-dressed women and often make a point to tell them so. Just because. I dress now thinking of what I like, what I think fits and flatters, what puts me in a good mood. I feel again myself—an idea that is no less true for being a bit hackneyed.
I like to think of this, a little fancifully, as going back to my roots. I grew up, after all, in a world in which a woman’s seriousness was not incompatible with an interest in appearance; if anything, an interest in appearance was expected of women who wanted to be taken seriously.
When my husband and I first moved to Memphis five years ago, we would always get introduced this way: Kyle is a professor at Rhodes College and his wife Petya here is from Bulgaria. Every. Single. Time. I did not like that. I remember thinking… oh, please, I am a strong, outspoken woman. I am educated, I have opinions, I have excellent taste. Surely, there is SOMETHING else you can say about me. But, no, Kyle works at Rhodes, Petya is from Bulgaria. Ugh.
Over time, however, I have stopped being bothered. I still give my friends a hard time about it but I really don’t mind. Because, I realized, this introduction is not only helpful, it’s also necessary!
|Photo Credit: Phoebe Autry|
|Image via Awesome People Reading|
Photo credit: Gilles Peress
This is what happy Petya looks like.
|Photo credit: The Selby|
"I have discovered that for me, it is much more effective to arrive in any situation as a man from Mars than to try and fit in."
–Tom Wolfe when asked about The Suit
New York City, 1999. The plan was to be here, writing the Great American Novel. Instead, I am two years into a stint as a script reader/girl Friday in Los Angeles for a producer who makes me stave off her impending nervous breakdown by burning smudge sticks. But then I get the call. My mother, the fairy godmother. My father has to back out of a long planned trip to NYC and there are broadway tickets, dinner reservations, the Plaza! I don't remember the shows we saw, the restaurants where we dined. What I do remember is the gaspingly cold fall morning when I saw him. Perhaps more importantly, I saw The Suit. Three piece, exquisitely tailored, and white. (I am not so long gone from the South that I don't find this a little shocking) He moves down the Fifth Avenue sidewalk as a sea of black coats part around him. His head is not bent against the cold, but held high, likely to show off the matching fedora. If my memory is to be trusted, he has a motherfucking cane. I was too shy to stop him. What if I would be interrupting a ritual of his, some bizarre public service he performed for aspiring writers. Come to New York! See your literary idols look exactly like their book jackets as they pass you on the street! The man writes great, gorgeous, jazzy riffs on life and culture. But he dresses via scalpel. Razor sharp.