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February 03, 2008


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patrick j. mullins

"Sontag has to confront her own ordinariness"

She never did, though. She kept making a production of every minute detail of it till the end. Even when she claimed (in an earlier article by Rieff in NYT Magazine about a year ago, but I read this Roiphe one too) that 'I don't feel special anymore', that didn't last long. She wrote the Abu Ghraib article (good, but not great), and spend the rest of the time looking for new medical procedures. Her thanatophobia was of an impressive vastness: When told (the old article again) to consider 'quality of life', she screamed 'I don't care about quality of life'!

I suppose you couldn't call her 'ordinary', but I wouldn't hesitate to call her 'common'.

At the ballet board, someone brought up Nabokov and the final novel that he wanted destroyed, but his wife woudn't do it, and his son 'can't make up his mind', just like Hamlet. I think it should be destroyed or there's nothing sacred, but if Ms. Sontag had asked David Rieff to destroy anything of hers, I can't imagine he'd have been ambivalent. Speaking of 'being ahead of curves', I thought surely after the Didion book Rieff wouldn't think he needed to write more than the article about Sontag's death. So now we get a whole book.

Was she really one of the 'most articulate' or just one of the greatest attention whores who ever lived?

I wouldn't be caught dead reading this book, even if I were a paid reader.

Okay, Susan, so you're the first person who never died. Is there anything else? Jesus.


Your last line is perfect.

I also thought of the contrast with the Didion book, particularly its tone and precision. And I wonder about the need that motivated this book--is it an attempt to kill the mother? she's not immortal? she's common, like all of us? or is the very need to assert her mortality the form of its opposite? after all, people die all the time.

I'm sure I've said here a million times that I apartment sat for SS back in the mid-eighties. And she didn't even pay me, as if it were her due and my privilege. If that's not common I don't know what it.

I meant to mention--I picked up an Arlene Francis book on Charm a few weeks ago. I've been meaning to either send it or quote it but have gotten pushed in other directions.

patrick j. mullins

And it just occurred to me after writing the above, that the 'Wow' was the first use of Spoken Emoticons. Everybody knows nothing was comprehensible or even invented until Susan did it.

'an Arlene Francis book on Charm'

This I will read. She was primarily ornamental, but did it so well. Lied to Middle America about gowns she wore on 'What's My Line'. She said: 'They're rennn-
ted....from Bonwit Tell-ah..' She had the one of the ultimate Manhattan High Styles. I wish Hillary spoke a little more in that luxurious
Arlene timbre of voice than the way she's started sounding like Bea Arthur.

An actor friend told me that somebody he knew met her at a big party, not knowing much about who she was, and asked her if she was married. Arlene said: DISASTROUSLY!'


assume you've read Scott McLemee's review?

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