The doorbell rang today and I when I opened the door there was a little box waiting for me. Inside was a copy of Jerome Charyn’s novel about Rita Hayworth and Orson Welles, Big Red.
Whenever I am about to buy a book I like to read the first paragraph and if it is not a mystery, the last paragraph.
I have written about this before here (link below). In that blog I mention that Jerome Charyn’s novel, The Secret Life of Emily Dickinson has a killer first paragraph in its introduction.
Big Red is about the relationship between those movie stars as – Narrated by a visionary lesbian who reimagines the tragic life and career of Rita Hayworth and her indomitable husband, Orson Welles.
I was not to be disappointed by the first paragraph.
I was an ACTRESS that couldn’t act, a dancer that couldn’t dance, a singer who couldn’t sing. So I went straight to Hollywood after my sophomore year at college in Kalamazoo. Still, I wasn’t much of a maverick. I had grown up on a farm in southern Illinois. Both my parents couldn’t read a word. I promised myself that I would become a reader, and I did become one, with a fierce regard to language. But language alone couldn’t imprison me with its pleasures. I saw every film that reached our rural town. There were no picture palaces on the plains, but we did have fifty-seaters in every nearby hamlet. That’s how I discovered the world watching William Powell and Myrna Loy eat breakfast in their pajamas….
Charyn has cited William Powell and Myrna Loy in reference to the magical Chrysler Building. Here it is:
Since the death of my Rosemary almost two years ago my continued grief has curtailed my own fierce reading habit. I stare at the ceiling or read Argentine (I was born in Buenos Aires) on-line newspapers on my phone. I read how, perhaps, a young man attempted to assassinate the vice president, Cristina Kirchner by pointing (so they say) a water pistol inches from her forehead.
I am pretty sure that Big Red will return me soon to those reading habits.