Lucinda Kempe lives in an Arts and Craft style house on Long Island where she exorcises with words. Her work has been published or is forthcoming in the Summerset Review, Journal of Compressed Creative Arts, decomP, Corium, Metazen, and Metrofiction. She has been a student of the poet Larry Fagin, and recently completed a graduate class in humor.
I grew up in a house on Chestnut Street in New Orleans with two older women as parents. My mother and her mother, who we called Mamoo, were former debutantes and women with a certain laisser fair attitude towards everything except books. A television didn’t arrive until I was 12. My first books were D’Aulaire’s Book of Greek Myths, A.A. Milne’s Now We are Six and When We Were Very Young, the latter given to me by Mamoo’s lady lesbian friend, Amy Scholls. I graduated to Louise Morrison’s Lost Queen of Egypt and Ian Flemings’ James Bond series. Characters like Argos Panopetes, Hera, Io, and poems like “When I was one I had just begun,” and historical fiction with Ankhenspaten and Tutenkhaten, names like Fleming’s Mary Goodnight and Pussy Galore floated around in my head. Later, I moved onto Robert Graves (I Claudius), Laurence Durrell (Justine), Kazantzakis (Last Temptation, St. Francis, Zorba the Greek, The Fratricides,), and Xavier Hollander. Oh, yeah! Quite a mix for, um, let’s call it an eccentric literary household.
My favorite books are by writers writing about other writers or themselves, and, of course, short stories. Blake Bailey’s Cheever: A Life led me to Cheever’s diaries, but I’d been led there by Cheever’s short stories first. A Tragic Honesty: The Life and Work of Richard Yates led me to Revolutionary Road. Liars in Love, one of Yates’ short story collections, led me to the Bailey bio. Sometimes writers just lead me to themselves. Janet Malcolm’s Iphigenia in Forest Hills: Anatomy of a Murder Trial led to The Silent Woman: Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes to In the Freud Archives (a hoot of an examination of brilliant people behaving badly) to Forty-one False Starts: Essays on Artists and Writers. Similarly Kathryn Harrison’s The Kiss led to The Mother Knot, which bolstered my courage to tell my own story.
Books can lead us to ourselves, the same way that my diary writing led me to becoming a writer. I also believe writing is transformative.
In Daniel Meneker’s My Mistake, he writes about an exchange with the editor Robert Maxwell. In it, Maxwell said that writers write to get the attention they didn’t receive as a child. I believe that.
Thanks for the comment on my piece "Samurai Kitteh", Lucinda. Being a survivor of incest, I often thought of myself as the prize of the litter, which came from my father referring to me as "his favorite". So, irony aside, not so much a title for this piece. But I appreciate the sentiment. Glad you read it.
Thank you for visiting and commenting on "Staring at a Bird Feeder" Lucinda. I took your advise and made a change at the end to clarify things a bit. Any better?
Thanks Lucinda for visiting "Suburban Snomance" and leaving a comment. I also enjoyed your window scene (re: Window), especially the King Tut strutting Mourning Doves!
Hi. Thanks for you comment on middle of the night.
Thanks Lucinda! I appreciate your comments on Barcode.
Just found your comment on 803 Monroe from Oct 2. Thanks so much for reading and for your kind comments. It means a lot, from you! xo
Lucinda, Lucinda, Lucinda... hi!
Thanks for reading Sweetie and Jack, sweetie!
Greetings, Lucinda! Best wishes for the coming year.