Monday, November 16, 2015

"Talk" by Linda Rosenkrantz (Introduction by Stephen Koch) NYRB

ISBN: 978-1-59017-844-7 NYRB

"Talk" by Linda Rosenkrantz (Introduction by Stephen Koch) NYRB

New York Review of Books (NYRB) is brilliant in that they re-issue titles that somehow fell between the cracks of memory and acceptance.   "Talk" by Linda Rosenkrantz is a very unusual "novel" in that it is a book that consist only of dialogue, and nothing else but a dialogue.   Rosenkrantz took her tape recorder and taped her friends chatting away about sex, drugs, food, and the slippery subject of happiness.    Originally she had 25 characters, but then edited it down to three characters, who are the voices in "Talk."   Immediately one can think of Andy Warhol' s"novel," "A," but this is actually a book that is edited more than written.  The commentary from all three participants in "Talk" is very pointed and beautifully stated (written).

The book (I'm not sure if this is technically a novel) took place in East Hampton in 1965.  Vincent, a gay painter, Emily, perhaps an alcoholic as well as an actress, and Marsha, who I suspect is our author.  Throughout the book, either on the beach, or in the kitchen, they discuss their sex lives, and the meaning of friendship between the trio.  There are sexual tensions between Vincent and the girls, as well as commentary of fellow friends who not actually appear in the book as conversationists.

Since it is 1965, and Rosenkrantz and Vincent are very much part of the Manhattan art world, there are galleries mentioned as well as Andy Warhol.  They are mostly passing figures, in which the dialogue is totally devoted to how Emily thinks of Vincent and Marsha, how Marsha thinks about Emily and Vincent, and of course, how Vincent feels about Marsha and Emily.   One doesn't get the nitty gritty aspect of Manhattan life, except I feel that these three people are on an island by themselves.  It's a fascinating document as well as a literary document of a time that has passed, yet seems very contemporary.

The author with her tape recorder. Photos: James Dugdale

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