Verboten “Unmentionables”

Notes from Alexis: Well I never said another word to others, about her Unmentionables. Writers around the world can breathe deeply. 

10-5-83

Dearest Lex,

What we have here is Panic with a capitol P in Keno. When you wrote that your new friend is a writer and has a character named Willard your mother just about lost it. The very thought that you would be bandying about such names as characters, be it his or mine, sent me into a tailspin.

It has taken me 41 years to get to the point where I can discuss a work in progress and I jealously guard its life until it grows up and gets published. So talking about a writer’s work is a no-no especially to another writer. Now reality tells me that you, yourself, have a difficult time keeping track of the people in EAB so it seems logical a disinterested party would care less. Who is talking about reality and logic! We are talking about writers and writing and there is nothing real or logical about them.

I really don’t mind you discussing my work habits- -you know the notebooks and boxes etc. but characters and story lines are forbidden, verboten, unmentionable! I particularly don’t want to know verboten unmentionables. I want to be able to tell you things about my writing. I think it helps me considerably, but you must become a repository, a bank vault, an unimpeachable source. However, if they put burning bamboo under your fingernails then you can tell–otherwise no, a thousand times no!

See, you go along thinking you know someone and then a little thing like this crops up and you are faced not by your dear sweet old mother, but by a snarling stranger. My, life is just full of pitfalls. (Lovely word ‘pitfalls’–makes one stop and think doesn’t it and conjures up all sorts of things)

Have been writing like mad on EAB and then along comes one whole chapter on the ‘as-yet-unnamed book’ about God-only-knows-what, so I must stop and write it up before it gets away from me. I now have beginning and end of EAB, and am starting to think about middle. I have not wanted to tackle middle as I didn’t know what I was talking about, but decided not to let that stop me.

The logistics of EAB are getting huge- -having to keep track of every fact, name, date etc. is quite a chore. This morning started a card file to go with notebooks and will have to start notebook for the new book, too. Imagine me without a title!

Your picture touched me so. I love everything you do but some of them touch me deeply–Fat Woman Sculpture and now your Fence Flowers, for instance. Actually some of my own things do the same. Frameworks has not, but the quilted wall hangings have. Frameworks is more intellectual and the wall hangings come from deep, deep within.

Last Friday B. called and wanted to know if you were coming up that weekend and I said you hadn’t said so, but anything was possible. She gave me details of where she would be all week as she is leaving Friday to go God only knows where for a month. She wanted you to pick out your stitchery. I rather expected you might have written her that you were coming?  Have you noticed that all my dealings with B. Dear are total misunderstandings! I shall assume henceforth that anything said by the party of the first part to the party of the second part is ‘oompah.’ Maybe you can communicate with her but I cannot!

We will have sheep butchered Friday afternoon. They are pissed because Dad bought grass hay instead of alfalfa (of course that’s not why we are butchering them). Had a mild attack of hysteria after reading what I just wrote.

Lovely days we are having and I hope they stay until you come. Must rush to get this to PO before pick up time.  

All our Love, 

Mom

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One comment on “Verboten “Unmentionables”

  1. Mark London says:

    Thanks for sharing these interesting letters!

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