Journaling, Appetites and a Movie Star’s Private Life

Molly Young will be on vacation for the next few months. In her absence, Book Her Review Colleagues featured Torch Featured will appear in your mailbox every other Saturday.

Dear Reader,

Mrs. Winsky, our 7th grade English teacher, made us keep a diary. At the start of each class she spent 10 to 15 minutes where we cracked open a black marble Mead writing book and scribbled down whatever came to mind: birthday wishes, weekend plans, Boy Scout trips. Details, cafeteria battles, adolescent crushes. Then—which seems like an important step to me now—forward them for her to take home and read, and put her neat red comments under each entry at the start of the next class. I will attach it and return it.

In this way, I don’t think any of us could articulate it at the time, but she taught us to think. audience, straddling the line between private reflection and public acceptance. A successful experiment required an instinctive balance of openness and restraint, the ability to choose and shape what you wanted to share.

Years later, as an adult, I stumbled upon that 7th grade notebook again, and was equally fascinated and horrified. As Valentine’s Day approached, I wrote that I had found the perfect gift for my so-called girlfriend at the time. A teddy bear wearing a mask and fishnet stockings and holding a whip. I thought it was a lion tamer! Beneath this description, the stoic Mrs. Winsky wrote simply, “Why don’t you ask her mom before gifting that bear.” Unfortunately she was too late.

As a reader, I am drawn to journals now for the same reasons I was drawn to journals. It’s a conscious dance between private and public, giving writers the freedom to experiment with style and self, and especially their inherently fragmentary nature, each entry being a new beginning. (I’m on the side of Emmanuelle Carrère, who wrote in “The Kingdom”, “I’m a modern man. I prefer sketches to grand tableaus.”)

Here are two particularly great examples of forms that deserve to be in anyone’s collection.

Gregory Cowles

Fischer’s food writing is deservedly admired, but it hurts her to see her as a “food writer” rather than a top-notch literary stylist who happens to be on the subject of food. Published primarily in France and California, these journals Fischer compiles from her three published collections during her long life. Readers can watch Fisher grow in her appetite and her voice and her peerless prose as a response to her two early marriages. The first ended in divorce, the second in the tragic death of her husband.

Food is constant, but so are current events (“I heard at noon that Paris surrendered to the Germans”) and especially language and literature, and Fischer’s original ambition to write a lasting sentence. is. She read Samuel Butler’s novel The Way of All Flesh in her twenties, and she says, “One day she wants to create a simple, direct style.” And years later, “My heart is full of words.” She reads Cocteau and Joyce and Josephine Herbst. She dreams of writing her own novel and rebukes herself for her 800 pages! — she’s not productive enough.

Towards the end of the book, as Fisher grows older and more famous, the entries take on a looser, more ruminative feel, becoming mini-essays as she assigns herself a topic (“Sleep,” Fittingly, one of these last works is about the style itself. Fisher now bluntly denies that idea. “I wasn’t born to be a real stylist,” she wrote. But how can she know how far back in the womb she’s been by listening to the use of words?”

Please read: “Travelable Feast” Ruth Reihill, Southern California Landscapes, Farm-to-Table Cuisine
Available from: good library or used book store

Actor Richard Burton was one of the biggest movie stars of his time. He has been married twice, has been nominated for seven Oscars, and has been the target of tabloids for his fickle personal life. But he was also a brilliant writer, as we learned when these posthumous diaries were published in 2012. 28 years after Burton died of a brain hemorrhage at the age of 58, and 1 year after Taylor himself died. years later.

Burton’s voice on this page often matches his general persona. He is a rogue and shrewd man with a deep knowledge that surfaces in literary and historical allusions. “Yesterday was a day as miserable as the Hittites, but a happier day, that is, no one died,” he said in his November 1968 post, when he drank three bottles of vodka in the afternoon. I am writing about “It is not good to drink too much. You will miss the marriage of various children, and they will be angry because there is no one around to make bad puns except their mother.” Quote the lines: He discusses the book he’s reading, and at the end of the 16-page inset is a picture of his enviable library in his home in Switzerland.

Strictly speaking, this book is more of a diary than a diary. Burton doesn’t spend much time analyzing his recorded experiences or honing his craft. It hardly matters. The experience itself, and the snarky allusive tone Burton uses to relate them, makes it hard to turn away, especially at the height of his fame and his involvement with Taylor.

Please read: “I’m Not Afraid of Virginia Woolf” (Of course), Bennifer 2.0, Paul Newman’s Memoirs, TMZ
Available from: Yale University Press

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