VIOLETTE’S EMBRACE:AN EXCERPT
flew to Paris to find a dead writer. On the airplane, in the bag on my lap, I carried a lilac-colored copy of La Batarde. It was tattered and underlined, with red paper wrappings from chopsticks marking the pages. Many years ago, I had found this book used in an old bookstore on Broadway in New York. The writer, Violette Leduc, wrote on an edge that reminded me of myself. I bought it for a dollar and devoured it forever.
Around Paris we flew, around, and twice around again. It was a pale-gray, dead-day of winter. Paris seemed bare. Brown, tan, gray hushed squares of earth surrounded the city. All that was visible was the very tip of the Eiffel Tower and the night- club on top of the ugly skyscraper in Montparnasse. The surrounding pink, glowing aura usually resting above the city was missing. The plane landed on the tarmac before I knew we were even near the ground.
Violette Leduc was a perplexing woman. She was demanding, discourteous, and intensely neurotic. She was obsessive and possessive. She didn’t understand the word “no” — and paradoxically, didn’t understand the word “yes”. She groveled at the feet of, she worshipped at the altar of Simone de Beauvoir. I would probably not have liked her.
Yet the language she uses to describe her life is splendid it is passionate, it is powerful, it is brave.
She was glaring with the truth — stark, nude, abandoned. I adore her pen, but am embarrassed by her eccentricity.
Still — Violette Leduc is my accomplice.