OTHER VOICES, OTHER ROOMS
Q: What frightens you?
A: Real toads in imaginary gardens.
Q: You being the toad?
A: Who else?
Q: And your novels and short stories?
A: The gardens.
Q: When did you first notice it?
A: Just skimming the top of any head I’d say it was LA CÔTE BASQUE.
Q: That’s when you realized…
A: That I was the Toad…
Q: The toad in the imaginary garden?
A: You got it, honey…
Q: How did you feel?
A: It wasn’t pleasant. But what did they expect? The high society ladies. Or even Perry Smith. I’m a writer. I use what I see & hear. Did they think I was listening to them for the fun of it?
Q: What happened?
A: What do you think? I was terribly ostracized—banned from High Society. The very same snobs & upper-crust elite that I’d catered to with The Black and White Ball, the endless hours of boring cocktail confessions that they just couldn’t wait to tell me all about. All the tell-tale gossip about the Rich & Famous.
A: All their kitschy bedroom secrets and smarmy hidden adulteries. The yachts lollygagging in the same old stultifying Mediterranean, the covered-up sex-scandals, the tacky divorces, the hushed-up murders, the inescapable usual boredom, the luxurious day-to-day ennui of it all.
A: That’s how I became the Toad in that Garden. But that wasn’t the first time. I had inklings & hints that I’ve been an evil ugly little Toad for quite a long time, honey.
Q: When was the first time?
A: Well, let’s see. I suppose it all goes back to my first novel—OTHER VOICES, OTHER ROOMS.
Q: Your first imaginary garden?
A: Yes, I be a Toad all the way back then. I just didn’t know it, that’s all.
Q: The way you deal with it, though, it’s always rather intriguingly imaginary, my dear.
A: I suppose so. Deceptively so. But that was the style back then—dontchaknow. Southern Gothic like Carson McCullers and Eudora Welty and Miss Faulkner.
Q: You mean Deep South Decadence?
A: Perhaps I was somewhat of a closet case back then. At least a part of me was. Too pretty to be a boy like the New Orleans voodoo queen said in “DAZZLE.”
Q: It came out in Joel the young kid in OTHER VOICES, OTHER ROOMS didn’t it?
A: Yes, unconsciously I suppose. With Randolph up there in the window too.
Q: Randolph was you?
A: I was both Joel & Randolph. Sometimes a writer can be writing a story — not realizing completely that he’s working out some problem that’s been troubling him.
Q: Like what?
A: That a fictional character isn’t fictive at all. It’s the Writer himself… Like in a nonfictional novel.
Q: Like being too pretty to be a boy?
A: That & everything that goes with it, my dear. I could only hint at it in OTHER VOICES, OTHER ROOMS. If I had kept it up much longer then, none of my future books would’ve sold — not with the tres chilly climate back then.
Q: All the homophobic critics?
A: Well, duh. Look what happened to Gore Vidal.
Q: He blamed the straight critics for him not being as successful as you were.
A: C’mon now, sweetheart. Miss Vidal only had herself to blame — that and the usual sour grapes routine.
Q: Well, if you were a critic today what would you say about what you’ve written so far?
A: Well, I’d probably say that Miss Capote certainly be quite familiar with horse manure, my dear.
Q: “Miss Capote”?
A: Yes, MISS CAPOTE. She sure bitch a lot, honey… Bitch, bitch, bitch. What a fuckin Bitch Queen!!! Moan & Bitch, that’s all she do anymore.
Q: Not a kind word for anybody? Not even herself?
A: Oh, I suppose I could blame it all on Big Daddy. You know like Madame Sylvia “Hammer Films” Plath. Or blame Ted Hughes for not catering to her fucked-up whims.
Q: Are you in a bitchy mood now?
A: What do you think, hmm? I can’t help it if I’m a Drearie Dearie these days. Mere trifles, though really, nothing’s really important anymore. Not after IN COLD BLOOD.
Q: Are you really being honest?
A: Did I ever say I was honest?
Q: All that nonfiction baloney… Didn’t you just to it for the moola? Those IN COLD BLOOD big bucks & film rights?
Q: C’mon, Truman. You couldn’t wait for them to exhaust their appeals & end up deader than doornails! So you could collect a million?
A: It was more than just a million, honey.
Q: Did you really fall in love with Perry Smith?
A: Well, I suppose Perry was more like the Leaper by the River Styx that Saint Julian came across.
Q: How do you mean?
A: I shared my robe with him — because he was cold. And I kissed his rotten diseased lips — to show I cared for him.
A: The hard Kansas rain was coming down on both of us — there in that dark Stygian Death Row Lansing Prison cell. We were both cold, shivering, lonely.
Q: And then what?
A: I couldn’t help myself. I had to comfort him somehow…