Sempre Susan: A Memoir of Susan Sontag

By Sigrid Nunez

A poignant, intimate memoir of 1 of America's such a lot esteemed and engaging cultural figures, and a deeply felt tribute.

Sigrid Nunez used to be an aspiring author while she first met Susan Sontag, already a mythical determine identified for her polemical essays, blinding intelligence, and edgy own type. Sontag brought Nunez to her son, the author David Rieff, and the 2 begun relationship. quickly Nunez moved into the residence that Rieff and Sontag shared. As Sontag advised Nunez, "Who says we need to stay like every person else?"

Sontag's impression on Nunez, who went directly to turn into a winning novelist, will be profound. defined through Nunez as "a ordinary mentor" who observed instructing others as either an ethical legal responsibility and a resource of never-ending excitement, Sontag unavoidably contaminated these round her together with her many cultural and highbrow passions. during this poignant, intimate memoir, Nunez speaks of her gratitude for having had, as an early version, "someone who held such an exalted, unironic view of the writer's vocation."

Published greater than six years after Sontag's loss of life, Sempre Susan is a startlingly honest portrait of this oversized character, who made being an highbrow a glamorous profession.

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Instead of proceed to behave in motion pictures, Nicole could produce them, together with Susan’s Promised Lands, a documentary set in Israel round the finish of the 1973 Yom Kippur struggle. whilst I met Nicole she was once engaged in a byzantine attempt to provide a movie model of Proust’s looking for misplaced Time, a probably cursed venture with which she may fight for years yet to come. Nicole was once ten years older than Susan, and her affection had a robust maternal part. She observed it as her accountability to keep up Susan, which looked as if it would come down quite often to feeding her. actually, at any time when she got here to manhattan, she spent such a lot of her time meals procuring (she cherished Zabar’s and, throughout city, Lobel’s meat industry at the top East aspect) and getting ready scrumptious foodstuff. however it appeared none of this is able to be comprehensive with no drama. usually while she was once busy within the kitchen she can be heard muttering and swearing in French and slamming issues round. between different frustrations, higher West part kitchens in these days have been overrun with roaches. yet in this specific stopover at, there has been no finish of items which may offend Nicole, and at least one time an afternoon she broke into tears or exploded in rage, or either. just like the reliable actor she used to be, she confident me that she used to be enchanted to fulfill me and basically too chuffed to welcome me into the relatives, although it used to be no longer so. She had a bothered historical past with David, and had constantly taken Susan’s aspect within the many conflicts among mom and son. Now it disgusted—but hardly ever surprised—her that he’d came upon himself a female friend who didn’t even understand how to boil an egg. She misunderstood a comment an individual permit fall (Nicole’s English used to be susceptible) after which couldn't be unconvinced of the thought that i used to be on a few type of superdangerous contraception tablet (in truth, I wasn’t at the tablet in any respect) which could lead to my sooner or later giving start to a freak. In different phrases, i used to be reckless in addition to incompetent. and how I held on David, even in public. Like a tramp. It made him slothful, she acknowledged. most of these fees opposed to me—and more—she voiced to others with regards to the loved ones, who repeated her phrases to me, as she most likely knew they'd, whereas to my face she remained . . . enchanted. occasionally she could take a black Magic Marker and write “Susan merely! ” on a variety of goods within the refrigerator. while she used to be clear of Susan she frightened approximately her, primarily approximately what she was once consuming. (Even prior to Susan turned sick, Nicole were recognized to name the entire method from Paris to the neighborhood bodega and order groceries to be dropped at Susan’s door. ) How might she ever chill out, realizing Susan used to be within the fingers of a couple of egocentric good-for-nothings like David and me? It used to be precise that once Nicole was once long past we’d go back to our behavior of consuming out, or consuming takeout, for all time. I can’t bear in mind any genuine cooking being performed at 340 until it was once by means of Nicole or another customer. No pleasing, no longer even on vacation trips. If there has been a visitor, she or he will be provided a cup of Café Bustelo (never any type of alcohol) or will be invited to hitch us for a frozen dinner or a bowl of canned soup.

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