Friday, January 29, 2016

Frank Conroy's Waiting

If great autobiography moves from individual experience to the time- and the place-less, then Frank Conroy, unmoored from his own lousy Floridian adolescence, is writing across millennia in this passage from his 1967 book Stop-Time:
My philosophy, at age eleven, was skepticism. Like most children I was antisentimental and quick to hear false notes. I waited, more than anything else, waited for something momentous to happen. Keeping a firm grip on reality was of immense importance. My vision had to be clear so that when “it” happened I would know. The momentous event would clear away the trivia and throw my life into proper perspective. As soon as it happened I would understand what was going on, and until then it was useless to try. (A spectacularly unsuccessful philosophy since nothing ever happened.)
Painting of Conroy by John Rich, Paris, 1953. Cover of first edition of Stop-Time.

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