It’s Halloween week, and that means it’s time for us to look back at some scary moments in DoY history. Or, rather, in the history of our interviewees. Alright, there are (mostly) no knives or bloody gore in here. But there are other, scarier things. Like sexism, and loneliness, and self-doubt.
Here are some shuddering tales of days past to give you a thrilling chill…
Kate Christensen on sexism!
Iowa, there are different stories about it, different versions. Incredible community, but also a stiff hierarchy and lots of competition. Tell me about your experience.
I was there during the beginning of the reign of Frank Conroy. I don’t know if this is generally true, but my experience with him was that he despised female writers. Although his first book, let me point out, was a small coming of age memoir called Stop-Time, he sneered at all of us young women writers, he sneered at the small coming of age novels that we were all apparently writing. It never occurred me that his first book was a goddamn coming of age novel.
He palled around with the guys. There was a real sense of… it was a man’s world. This was 1987. They played pool together, they got drunk together, they lavishly praised one another’s writing. There was just a boy’s network.
Marina Abramovic on nearly being killed by her own mother!
Finally, the museum of modern art gave me the space to show all my written performances, which were photographic at that time. I went to the opening, and I knew that I had to be home at ten o’clock. Everybody was going for dinner, but I went home anyway. I didn’t know that somebody had called my mother and told her on the phone, “Your daughter is hanging naked in the museum. There is a photo.”
So, I arrived home at five to ten. I opened the door, and the house was dark. And I thought, she’s sleeping. I opened the dining room door and she is sitting in the dark, completely dressed in her double breasted-suit, really white in the face. And there is this huge crystal ashtray from the marriage that never worked, that someone had given my father and my mother, and she picked up this ashtray and she threw it at my head. Really, with the words from Taras Bulba, “I make you and I am taking your life from you.”