“What is most admirable in the fantastic is that the fantastic doesn’t exist; all is real,” said Andre Breton.
Two of my favorite politically conservative publications start me off today. First comes news that The American Conservative magazine, launched by Taki Theodoracopulos and Pat Buchanan, will cease publishing on May 7 unless some rich benefactor intervenes. As this magazine of the right was vociferous in criticizing both Democrats and the Bush administration over the recent past, this leaves “who” to ride to their rescue? I will certainly miss it.
National Review, created by the late William F. Buckley Jr., has what I call a “truth is stranger than fiction” story of the decades in its April 20 issue. I don’t think the editors will mind if I print it here:
Nagasaki resident Mr. Tsutomu Yamaguchi was on a business trip in Hiroshima on August 6, 1945. The atom bomb caught him in the open, and he was badly burned. After stumbling through the shattered city and its horrors for some hours, Mr. Yamaguchi managed to get on a train back to his hometown. After treatment for his injuries, he dutifully reported back to work at his company in Nagasaki on the morning of August 9. His boss demanded an explanation for his bandaged appearance, and was incredulous when told of the destruction of Hiroshima (of which the Japanese media had said nothing). He had just lost his temper and accused Mr. Yamaguchi of lying when there was an almighty flash … Mr. Yamaguchi, now 93 years old, has been formally certified as one of the very few to have survived both nuclear blasts; and, of that few, to have been closest to both – about two miles in each case.
At a recent bash for the Literati and Glitterati downtown on the East Side, I rubbed shoulders with a gang of the most famous. They were there to salute Allegra Huston for her stunning book, Love Child. (It’s all about how director John Huston and his relatives shifted her from pillar to post during her motherless growing up!)
Glimpsed cramming up to the serving table to eat the fabulous creations served up by chef Anita Clark were such stars as Lauren Bacall, Brian de Palma, Jeremy Irons, Anjelica Huston, Roger “Pink Floyd” Waters, John Richardson, Joan Juliet Buck, Nell Campbell (this reigning nightclub doyenne of the ’60s/’70s now lives in Sydney, Australia), R.J. Wagner and Jill St. John, John Patrick Shanley, Lillian Ross, Earl McGrath and I’m sure I’ve dropped and lost the names of tons of VIPs.
Norris Church Mailer, looking beautiful as usual, was there telling me she has until July to finish her Random House memoir, A Ticket to the Circus, all about her life growing up in Arkansas and then meeting and marrying the famous Norman Mailer. She has suffered mightily since his death, but told me, “I think I’ve finally forgiven Norman for everything!” We had to agree he was one of the most dynamic men we’d ever met. Norris’s book is one I can’t wait to read.
Norman Mailer, Norris Church Mailer and Liz, from Liz’s personal photos
Another truly famous author was Salman Rushdie, who said he was out socializing even though he was writing a children’s book and almost at the end of it. This distinguished guy — who had a fatwa declared against him for insulting Mohammed and who has been knighted by the queen — said, “Never in my life have I enjoyed anything like writing this book for kids. I have a 12-year-old and his input and influence on me has just been astounding. Unlike most authors almost at the end of finishing a book, I am happy and not hysterical and pressured. It has really been great.”