Sempre Susan: A Memoir of Susan Sontag

By Sigrid Nunez

A poignant, intimate memoir of 1 of America's such a lot esteemed and interesting 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 recognized for her polemical essays, blinding intelligence, and edgy own kind. 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 reside like all people else?"

Sontag's impact on Nunez, who went directly to turn into a profitable novelist, will be profound. defined via Nunez as "a usual mentor" who observed instructing others as either an ethical legal responsibility and a resource of never-ending excitement, Sontag necessarily contaminated these round her along 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 demise, Sempre Susan is a startlingly honest portrait of this oversized character, who made being an highbrow a glamorous profession.

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David tells me you’re considering relocating out and that it’s due to me. ” We have been the place all of it begun: in her room, I sitting on her table chair, she on her mattress. “I’m sorry,” she acknowledged, modulating her voice and hitting her consonants as she did whilst she needed to sound up to speed, “but i can't take that accountability. ” There fairly wasn’t a lot i'll say to that. “It’s now not fair,” she acknowledged stubbornly. “What if he doesn’t forgive me to your relocating out? ” She acknowledged, “My pricey, you haven’t notion this via. You don’t pass from being a pair that lives jointly to a few that lives aside. That’s absurd. You’re creating a large mistake. ” I’d have basically myself accountable if we broke up. If merely it hadn’t been very unlikely for her to be on my own. If basically her dating with Nicole might have been stored. If in simple terms she’d nonetheless been dwelling part the time on rue de l. a. Faisanderie. If merely Joseph had desired to be her guy. If basically she hadn’t gotten melanoma. we'd have damaged up besides. we'd have lasted longer, certainly. yet in spite of everything, issues wouldn't have labored out. Susan can have lived at the moon, and David and that i should not have labored out. I’ve identified this for a very long time. What I don’t understand is how we controlled to stagger on for an additional 12 months and a part after I moved out. For numerous months, we endured to spend so much of our time jointly at 340 instead of within the half-furnished shoe field with unreliable warmth and sizzling water that I had rented on Sullivan road. in the course of that point, issues truly did improve—meaning, we received alongside higher. I wasn’t satisfied, yet i used to be extra at peace. i used to be not operating on the big apple assessment yet at an analogous task, as assistant to the editor of a small German publishing condo in a cool loft in newly named Tribeca. and that i had began writing a singular. it'd be released in simple terms as excerpts in a small journal, it'd be scorned through Hardwick as “bad, each note of it, now not worthy writing,” but if it used to be just a couple of chapters lengthy it received me a literary agent and the eye of a number of editors. •   •   • It simply hit me. That Berkeley convention. Susan. Hardwick. Leonard Michaels. Donald Barthelme. Theodore Solotaroff. They’re all useless. most people during this memoir are lifeless. •   •   • correct after I moved, an individual despatched me an nameless letter starting with “Congratulations” and happening to claim that I had performed a courageous, shrewdpermanent, most likely lifesaving factor. It used to be intended to be supportive, in fact. yet I knew precisely why it was once nameless, and all it did used to be infuriate me. (I felt a lot an analogous manner whilst, years later, a pal of Susan’s reminisced: “Of direction, from the day you moved in with them, all of us simply seemed on in horror. ”) •   •   • The 12 months 1978 introduced anything Susan had lengthy been dreading: the expiration of her hire. Being pressured to go away her domestic of approximately ten years threw her right into a drawback. She even had undesirable goals approximately it, together with one within which she discovered herself anticipated to reside in a home that had no roof over it. “But what approximately while it rains? ” she saved asking the dream landlord.

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