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186 pages, Hardcover
First published January 1, 2021
….when we were building the second place, and had come to start calling it that in a way I knew would never change if we carried on doing it much longer, I said to him that ‘second place’ pretty much summed up how I felt about myself and my life – that it had been a near miss, requiring just as much effort as victory but with that victory always and forever somehow denied me, by a force that I could only describe as the force of pre-eminence. I could never win, and the reason I couldn’t seemed to lie within certain infallible laws of destiny that I was powerless – as the woman I was – to overcome. I ought to have accepted it at the beginning, and spared myself the effort! Tony listened to me, and I could tell he was slightly surprised by what I was saying, and that he was thinking about why he was, and after a long time he said:
‘For me it doesn’t mean that. It means parallel world. Alternative reality.’
Well, Jeffers, I laughed heartily to myself at this perfect example of the paradox that is Tony and me!
Because this is partly a story of will, and of the consequences of exerting it, you will notice, Jeffers, that everything I determined to happen happened, but not as I wanted it! This is the difference, I suppose, between an artist and an ordinary person: the artist can create outside himself the perfect replica of his own intentions. The rest of us just create a mess, or something hopelessly wooden, no matter how brilliantly we imagined it. That’s not to say that we don’t all of us have some compartment in which we too are able to achieve ourselves instinctively, to leap without looking, but the bringing of things into permanent existence is an achievement of a different order. The closest most people come to it is in having a child. And nowhere are our mistakes and limitations more plainly written than there!
One afternoon I came upon him standing by the prow of the landlocked boat, just as he had been the day of our very first conversation, and this coincidence led me to exclaim, somewhat absurdly: ‘So much has changed, and yet nothing has!’ When of course, Jeffers, it would have been as true – and as meaningless – to say that nothing had changed and yet so much had.
part of L’s greatness lay in his ability to be right about the things that he saw, and what confounded me was how, at the plane of living, this rightness could be so discordant and cruel
‘Who pays for all this?’ he asked. ‘The house and the land belong to Tony. I have some money of my own.’ ‘I can’t imagine your little books make all that much.’
"It is terribly difficult for me to explain these things to you. Jeffers, these tides and currents that compromise the relationships between people - the fluid come and do that constitute so different a reality from the solid, staring fixed appearance of faces"
Justine often asked me why Tony and I didn’t get a dog, since our life was ideally suited to having one and since she knew Tony had always had dogs before he met me. …. The truth was, Jeffers, I feared that if Tony got a dog, it would become the centre of his attention, and he would give it friendship and affection that should have come to me. I was in a sense in competition with this theoretical pet, many of whose characteristics – loyalty, devotion, obedience – I believed I already demonstrated ……….. I would say that this non-dog had come to stand for the concept of security, …. I mention this because it illustrates how in matters of being and becoming, an object can remain itself even at the mercy of conflicting perspectives. The non-dog represented the necessity for trusting and finding security in human beings: I preferred it that way, but Tony and Justine only had to get a sniff of that proposition to take fright. Yet the non-dog was a fact, at least for Tony and for me, and we were able to agree on it, even while it meant different things to each of us. The fact represented the boundary or separation between us, and between any two people, that it is forbidden to cross. …. all I could do was suspect, from my side of the boundary, that the two chief recipients of my love – Tony and Justine – both privately yearned for something mute and uncritical to love them instead.
LIT - when she first meets Lorenzo/Lawrence "I died inside and became speechless, Tony is never any help at such a moment, and he just stood there" : Second Place - when she first meets L "I was so wrong footed .... Tony is never any help in that kind of situation - he just stands there and says nothing ... I became blank inside"
LIT - immediately afterwards "I made out, in the twinkling of an eye, that Frieda immediately saw Tony and me sexually, visualising our relationship" Second Place - immediately afterwards "I saw that she [Brett] was imagining me and Tony together sexually"
LIT - Lorenzo when he arrives at Taos "It's like one of those nasty temples in India": Second Place - Brett getting to the Second Place "It's a cabin in the woods, straight out of a horror story"
LIT - Lawrence says to Mabel "You have gone a long way but I have gone longer": Second Place: L says to M "You have gone far but I have gone further"
LIT - has "Mother Hubbards" for a critique by Lorenzo/Lawrence of shapeless dresses (in this case worn by Mabel ): in Second Place its Brett using the same term
LIT – “I wrote a parody about [Lorenzo] and sent it to Walter Lippemann, who saw I was hurt and replied “It’s your own fault. Don’t you know you can’t make a pet out of a snake” Second Place – when Arthur persuades M she cannot look after L post-stroke “You can’t expect to keep a snake as a pet”
LIT – “One morning when I was lacing my shoe, I lost consciousness and remained away from myself for twenty-four hours” Second Place “one day when I was lacing my shoe I fainted and remembered nothing of what had happened for the next twenty four hours”
LIT – we find that despite Brett’s father keeping a racing stable – he never let his daughters learn to ride. Second Place – despite Brett’s father being a famous golf player he never teaches her to play
LIT – Tony and Lorenzo have an argument after Tony shoots a porcupine – partly for food and partly as they are destroying his trees. Lorenzo has a “proprietary” attitude – he will not permit shooting in his vicinity and considers anything around him as belonging to him. Second Place – an almost identical scene plays out with a deer – with L having a “conception of property”
LIT – a character Clarence decides he is destined to be an author, wears a red velvet coat and arranges himself in a room with a typewriter and proceeds to write. Second Place – a longer version of this scene plays out with Kurt (and a black velvet housecoat)
LIT – Tony bellows “Come back here” at Mabel : Second Place – the exact same happens
LIT – Clarence wants Mabel that Lorenzo is “determined to kill you”: Second Place: Kurt tells M that L “intends to destroy you”