, Kelly O’Connor McNees adds some New England nookie into the famously single author’s life back in the summer of ’55 (1855, that is). Here, Alcott is not portrayed merely as a suffrage-minded spinster, but as a sexual being capable of forbidden love and even, gasp, coitus with the dapper Joseph Singer.
McNees doesn’t invent her protagonist’s sensual side out of nothingness. Alcott may have written the safely moralistic
, but she also penned more salacious tales, with titles such as
, under the pen name, A.M. Barnard; and was rumored to have had an affair with Ladislas Wisniewski (“Laddie”) while in Europe that inspired the character of Laurie in her novel.
Although McNees’ treatment of the text can feel a bit too dainty at times, in between the requisite play planning, moralizing, and epistolary section that must stock the pages of any ode to Alcott, she does hone in on a deeper element. She picks up on the heft of her subject’s love of words — her hunch that they were not an assemblage of letters, but rather the humming core of experience. It’s not exactly fan fiction, but there is an element of that here sure to resonate with longtime Alcott fans.
Which got us thinking: Which other famous writers would we like to see starring in a steamy literary romance? Here, five of our best suggestions, most of them founded in reality. Leave a comment with yours.
1. Henry Miller and Anais Nin – Tropic of the Skinny Jeans A tale of sex and travel in which Miller (who was brought up in Williamsburg) is reimagined as a modern day hipster — complete with an encyclopedic knowledge of Pitchfork and Stuff White People Like — who must battle every other famous writer-lover Anais had — including Edmund Wilson, Gore Vidal, James Agee, and Lawrence Durrell — over a pair of perfectly-broken-in skinny jeans.
2. Truman Capote and Newton Arvin – Precious Spooky Rides Again In this delightful novel set in the Yaddo artist commune, Capote (or “Precious Spooky” to his distinguished beau) carries on a torrid affair with his writer-in-residence, Arvin. When another Yaddo writer makes a crack about Capote’s not having gone to college, Spooky simply declares, “Newton was my Harvard.” In the final section, we discover that it was Arvin that Spooky was thinking of when Harold Hama took the infamous promo picture for
3. Dante Alighieri and Beatrice Portinari – The Nine Celestial Spheres of Heaven…in Bed A most divine comedy in which Dante and his beloved Bice get to consummate their courtly lust at first sight. After declaring their love in terza rima, let’s just say she guides him through the nine celestial spheres of heaven… in bed (in a mystic Christian sense, of course).
4. The Marquis de Sade and Anne-Prospère – Cat O’ Nine Tales An account of the libertine lifestyle of Sade and his then-mistress (and his wife’s sister, to boot). Never boring, this colorful tome is liberally peppered with manservants, prostitutes, Spanish fly, and farm animals.
5. Kurt Vonnegut, Philip K. Dick, and the Woman Who Fornicated With the Shetland Pony – Pony Express In which Vonnegut and Dick finally find the woman referenced in Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said
… and her pony. The end.
Which writers would you like to see between the summer sheets?