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"The Master's Muse" by Varley O'ConnorNew novel about Le Clercq and Balanchine


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#91 kfw

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Posted 17 April 2012 - 07:44 PM

Tobi Tobias published a short comment on this book in her web column. Here is the link.


Thanks.

Tanaquil LeClercq was not a heroine in a middle-brow tale.


Perfectly put.

#92 Mme. Hermine

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Posted 18 April 2012 - 03:11 AM

Tanaquil LeClercq was not a heroine in a middle-brow tale.


Perfectly put.


Indeed.

#93 dirac

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Posted 19 April 2012 - 06:07 AM

I guess it would be all right if Le Clercq were the heroine of a novel with a higher brow? Hemingway wrote about real (and living) people in The Sun Also Rises and he was rather less respectful than Varley O'Connor is reported to be. Sure, he was Hemingway, but less reputable novelists have done the same.

I'd be more impressed if Tobias was actually able to cite something outrageously exploitative (sorry, BTW, to see Tobias making use of the unfortunate "exploitive"). I suppose if you think the project is by definition outrageous then there you are, but we've already had that discussion. (I get the impression that Tobias might have been more forgiving if she'd enjoyed it more.)

#94 kfw

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Posted 19 April 2012 - 07:14 AM

I guess it would be all right if Le Clercq were the heroine of a novel with a higher brow? Hemingway wrote about real (and living) people in The Sun Also Rises and he was rather less respectful than Varley O'Connor is reported to be. Sure, he was Hemingway, but less reputable novelists have done the same.

I'd be more impressed if Tobias was actually able to cite something outrageously exploitative (sorry, BTW, to see Tobias making use of the unfortunate "exploitive"). I suppose if you think the project is by definition outrageous then there you are, but we've already had that discussion. (I get the impression that Tobias might have been more forgiving if she'd enjoyed it more.)


For one thing, Hemingway wrote his own story. For another, he was a good enough writer to do it justice. I would feel differently if Holly Brubach, a friend of LeClerq’s, or Tobias, who has long been part of the ballet world, had written the book and written it well. I wouldn't love the idea, but it wouldn't seem in such bad taste. For an outsider to come in and take a beloved and somewhat mysterious figure and imagine her life in an apparently pedestrian manner is something else entirely.

#95 joelrw

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Posted 19 April 2012 - 09:00 AM

I posted a message to Tobi Tobias's blog yesterday, in which I pointed out that either (1) she hasn't read O'Connor's book or (2) her description of it is so far removed from what the book actually is as to be a gross distortion. Everything Tobias writes from "Do we really need to hear the couple's pillow talk?" onward is beyond ludicrous.

I also left O'Connor's response to such criticism, published in Publisher's Weekly, in my message ( I've given it here earlier in this thread). But perhaps needless to say, Ms. Tobias deleted my message soon after I posted it.

#96 dirac

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Posted 19 April 2012 - 09:11 AM

I should think that for a friend like Brubach to write such a fiction would be a considerably worse bit of exploitation, given the various reasons already presented for objecting to such a project on principle, unless she and Le Clercq had some sort of understanding on the matter.

Hemingway wrote his own story, but he used people and incidents from life and not always fairly. It turned out a classic but I'm not sure that made all the people concerned feel better.

#97 kfw

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Posted 19 April 2012 - 09:28 AM

I should think that for a friend like Brubach to write such a fiction would be a considerably worse bit of exploitation, given the various reasons already presented for objecting to such a project on principle, unless she and Le Clercq had some sort of understanding on the matter. Hemingway wrote his own story, but he used people and incidents from life and not always fairly. It turned out a classic but I'm not sure that made all the people concerned feel better.


Regardless of whether she had LeClerq's permission, Brubach would not be a stranger imagining her. Likewise, Hemingway knew the people he wrote about and had lived through what he described. A roman a clef can be kind or unkind, fair or unfair - it's not the genre per se that I object to.

#98 dirac

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Posted 19 April 2012 - 09:57 AM

I'm not sure how Brubach could properly undertake such a project, given how she described Le Clercq's zeal for privacy in her article and the objections she raised to O'Connor's effort, but perhaps I'm missing something.

If there are in fact no objections to the book on principle but only to the fact of O'Connor's being an "outsider" and therefore unworthy and/or unqualified then it's hard to see what all the fuss is about.

#99 kfw

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Posted 19 April 2012 - 10:49 AM

I'm not sure how Brubach could properly undertake such a project, given how she described Le Clercq's zeal for privacy in her article and the objections she raised to O'Connor's effort



That's true. I was trying to think of someone who could just possibly, just maybe, have some basis for conveying LeClerq's experience, but as I said, the idea still wouldn't appeal. But given LeClerq's nature, there apparently is no such person anyhow.

If there are in fact no objections to the book on principle but only to the fact of O'Connor's being an "outsider" and therefore unworthy and/or unqualified then it's hard to see what all the fuss is about.


I object to this particular roman a clef on principle, for reasons explained.

#100 dirac

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Posted 19 April 2012 - 11:29 AM

For the record, "The Sun Also Rises" is a roman à clef, not The Master's Muse, which is more along the lines of the Irving Stone novels mentioned earlier in this thread (and could be regarded part of a contemporary trend with female public figures as subjects). I brought up the former to point out that "violations of privacy" by novelists are nothing new and from what I understand of O'Connor's treatment, hers seems respectful enough, whereas some of Hemingway's friends got the back of his hand.

#101 lmspear

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Posted 19 April 2012 - 12:00 PM

Speaking of the roman à clef form, remember how Nora Ephron skewered Carl Bernstein and his inamorata in Heartburn. Posted Image

#102 kfw

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Posted 19 April 2012 - 12:04 PM

For the record, "The Sun Also Rises" is a roman à clef, not The Master's Muse, which is more along the lines of the Irving Stone novels mentioned earlier in this thread (and could be regarded part of a contemporary trend with female public figures as subjects). I brought up the former to point out that "violations of privacy" by novelists are nothing new and from what I understand of O'Connor's treatment, hers seems respectful enough, whereas some of Hemingway's friends got the back of his hand.


Rough treatment isn't the only form of disrespect.

#103 Kathleen O'Connell

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Posted 19 April 2012 - 12:39 PM

For me the issue is whether LeClerq's biography -- or any real person's biography -- is novelized from the "inside" or from the "outside." In the former, the story is told in either first or close third person from the point of view of the principal subject -- in this case LeClerq -- so that the author is to a greater or lesser degree imagining and depicting that subject's interior life. In the latter, the story is told from the point of view of someone other than the principal subject -- a person (usually fictional, or at least a "non-enitity") who observes the subject from the outside and narrates what he or she perceives to have taken place.

I think "inside" novelizations are pretty dicey, even if the subject is long-dead (as in the case of Colm Toibin's "The Master") but don't have too much trouble with the "outside" ones if they're done well.

#104 dirac

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Posted 19 April 2012 - 12:50 PM

As I probably mentioned upthread, it seems to me the whole point of choosing the novel form is to allow the writer the freedom to engage in such imaginings.( "Burr," which not only doesn't employ a fictional third party but assumes the first person, is a particular favorite of mine.)

#105 Kathleen O'Connell

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Posted 19 April 2012 - 01:12 PM

As I probably mentioned upthread, it seems to me the whole point of choosing the novel form is to allow the writer the freedom to engage in such imaginings.( "Burr," which not only doesn't employ a fictional third party but assumes the first person, is a particular favorite of mine.)


I love "Burr" too! But isn't it told from the point of view of the fictional Charlie Schuyler? Charlie is a first person narrator, so we are indeed privy to his thoughts, but we only see Aaron Burr himself from the outside. Charlie's a lot of fun, but Burr is the real subject.


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