The Reverse Strip Of The NovelistFriday, November 05, 2010
Mario Vargas Llosa published an interesting book of literary criticism in 2003 called Letters to a Young Novelist. In it I found this:
Writing novels is the equivalent of what professional strippers do when they take off their clothes and exhibit their naked bodies on stage. The novelist performs the same acts in reverse. In constructing the novel, he goes through the motions of getting dressed, hiding the nudity in which he began under heavy, multicolored articles of clothing conjured up out of his imagination. The process is so complex and exacting that many times not even the author is able to identify in the finished product — that exuberant display of his ability to invent imaginary people and worlds — the images lurking in his memory, fixed there by life, which sparked his imagination, spurred him on, and induced him to produce his story.
If someone to ask me what some of the more interesting high marks of my receding and past life have been, I would cite two in particular. Exactly four actresses cried on demand for me in my studio and I was able to capture that on film. Less sad, but somehow as exciting would be the two performances (and I would stress not one, but two!) that I was privy to courtesy of one of the most sensual and beautiful women I ever met in my life. It was a reverse strip by the jazz dancer Jackie Coleman who moonlighted evenings when her gigs at the CBC were in a hiatus as a stripper in the Number 5 Orange. One of her performances was for a private function but the other may have been at the Five. Coleman appeared on stage undraped with a cane back chair and some clothes under her arms. With some brassy music as background she proceeded to get dressed. Coleman had legs that would have made Dietrich cry.
When Coleman slipped on her fishnets after some of her unmentionables (or perhaps my memory is spotty here and the sequence was the equally pleasant opposite) there was no act of taking it off that I subsequently did see that will ever compete in excellence.