The lives and deaths of writers are often as ugly as they. Readers clamor to know more, they want everything revealed. When that could only spoil the mystery.
Tour buses in Key West bellow out the names of the bars they pass, informing tourists ‘this was Hemingway’s favorite place to drink in the afternoons’. I would be more impressed to find a bar Hemingway did not frequent.
Writers are a tribe oft referenced by the public, but not easy to spot. Which is just as well, because unlike, say, movie stars they are not an attractive bunch. It seems to go with the territory except for the exceptions who prove the rule.
John Hersey, now only known to to the old and learned, long ago bequeathed his 1969 sky blue Mercedes Benz 280 to David Wolkowsky. David is regularly seen chuffing this great car around town. I’ve driven it myself with David for a willing passenger. It’s always fun to rumble about and get stares and photos snapped. Diva for a day.
Long ago I was given a late-90s Volvo 740, grey, automatic, because the owner died and his family did not want it. They only wanted the newer Volvo and the house. Otherwise, they returned the 740 to my cousin, who had bought it in the first place. She’d bought it, along with the house and the newer Volvo because this antisocial head-case, while a socially lauded writer, cost her a fortune.
Writers are expensive pets. My cousin was well padded from a comfortable divorce settlement and she could afford him; today he is almost unknown except to a dwindling few intellectuals. On the day he died, sitting in his chair by a voluble fire, sipping a good bourbon and smoking a cigarette. This his eff you to the emphysema that had come for him. Bitter to the end.
When I inherited the 740 I named it Dead Man Rolling. Eventually it collapsed in the side of a deer in the Hamptons, on a blowy hazy afternoon.