Looking back on the first posts of FWL, there's nothing to be exceedingly excited or embarrassed about, nothing poignant or momentous, but there's a funny bit of symmetry in the December 29, 2004 memorial to Susan Sontag, as I've gotten on a bit of a Sontag kick this month. I just finished Edmund White's My Lives and City Boy and, particularly with the final pages of City Boy, I was pretty heavily immersed in Sontag and his friendship and falling out with her. There are so many good passages in his writing about her in City Boy, but here are two of my favorites--
She was a terrible snob. Once I had her to dinner with a beautiful and charming young couple who each eventually went on to write successful novels but who were unknown at the time. Susan said in an embarrassingly loud stage whisper, "Why did you invite them?" I was so vexed that I lied and said, "They're terribly rich." Susan nodded sagely, as if that answered all her doubts.Then Kevin got me Sigrid Nunez's slim memoir of Sontag, Sempre Susan, which I plan to read on the plane to Arkansas for the holiday. And I have her early journals, Reborn, as well, which I need to get around to.
Once she read something I'd written where I'd carefully ascribed my thoughts to the sources that had inspired me. She said, "Cross all that out. Claim it for yourself. No one will ever notice who said it originally. It weakens your argument to be so scrupulous." Perhaps she was right, but this kind of recklessness got her into trouble later, when she was caught for plagiarizing, word for word, in a few passages of her novel In America.
And just as a fun bonus, here she is in 1992 pretending she doesn't know who Camille Paglia is.