Monday, April 29, 2013

Tempting the Fates

                   "Wretched Excess" ©, oil and gold leaf on linen

No sooner had I announced my triumph over lymphocytic colitis then the gods took offense and whacked me with another bout.  I am gluten intolerant and still have lymphocitic colitis.  I hope the gods are happy.

It was actually two days before I got the attack.   I have been known to embellish.  No really. 

Perhaps exaggeration comes from being a novelist.  But it has begun to haunt me.  There are parts of my first, partially autobiographical novel (Hell's Bells, available on ebay for a penny) that I no longer know if happened in the real world or in my head.  We did have a shark scare on the Vineyard one year.  My mother didn't particularly like to swim, but was stalwart about daily exercise.  Katama Bay was mostly murky with an abundance of squishy vegetation.  You wouldn't have caught me in there before the shark scare.  Time Magazine had published an article that (I believe) said sharks avoid  yellow and should be deterred with a blunt instrument.  I wrote that the mother character swam in a screaming yellow tank suit and carried a hammer.   I assume that was fabrication, although I know she often swam in a leopard skin patterned tank suit.  My parents were great characters and had no need of embellishment.

I tell people how my father's office (he was a writer) was next to where my mother painted.  One day he made a comment about a painting. She took it off the easel and hurled it at him.  Subsequently he moved his office to the other end of the house.  I believed this to be one of my fictions, so I was startled to learn it was the truth.  In 1958 or thereabouts, my father was interviewed on Person to Person. I watched a grainy tape of the show recently.  My mother, who went gray in her late thirties, looked like a bombshell blonde on black and white television.  She introduced me as her "chatty" daughter. And then she told nation the story about lobbing the canvas at my father.

Does it matter if a story is true?  I think it should, but I'm pretty sure that as the embellisher, I am ill equipped to judge.

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