Jun. 19th, 2006 10:56 am
susanstinson: (Default)
[personal profile] susanstinson
This is a story I emailed to some friends this morning, but I thought you, dear lj, might be interested, too.

This weekend, I was at a small conference about historical New England diaries, doing research for the novel I'm working on now. It was very wonderful in a lot of ways, including the passion (sometimes complete with blushing) in people's faces as they talked about the long-dead people whose diaries they were devoted to. As I came out of one session, I saw a small group of women clustered together, then noticed that one of them was very carefully holding something on a bed of white tissue paper. It turned out to be an ivory colored linen baby's shirt from 1799, and at least some of the women were textile historians, flipping up the lace collar and admiring the fine stitching.

I loved this, and it made me think of Carline from Venus of Chalk. So did the woman with very passionate opinions about the invention of pantyhose who is writing a history of clothes in the 1950s, and the one whose friend's mother had collected thousands of home economics pamphlets... The combination of experiencing that moment, and reading some Tennessee Williams reminded me that one of the things I drew on in writing the scene in Venus of Chalk in which Mel unfolds his bundle of cloth to show it to Carline in the shed was a similiar moment -- in a boat, yes? -- in Night of the Iguana. Tennessee Williams again.

Other influences on that moment include Thomas Hardy, who had a character very devoted to his beloved's glove, and John Ford, an artist I met in Missouri when my painter brother, Don Stinson, was very generously driving me over part of the route of the road trip in the novel, taking photos. John unwrapped a bundle of a very old -- again, ivory-colored -- corset that he had found wrapped around a glass kind of photo negative with the people's eyes blacked out that he had found in an attic in Ireland. And, you know, old white nylon slips. (My brother did a drawing once of me in one of my mother's. One version is on the cover of Belly Songs.) And all.

(no subject)

Date: 2006-06-19 08:16 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] bluerosesgirl.livejournal.com
I love this. I love that you've taken the time to link back from your delighted moment, to talk about them coming together, to draw it for us like your brother's drawing of you, at once archival and now. Thank you!

(no subject)

Date: 2006-06-20 01:54 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] susanstinson.livejournal.com
What a cool observation, good to know that you liked it.


susanstinson: (Default)

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