Hollywood, where the tonic for anonymity is fame and you’re only as real as your image. At a party, the narrator, a screenwriter, rescues a young woman who staggers with drunken determination into the Pacific. He is living far from his wife in New York and long ago shed any illusions about the value of his work. He just wants to be left alone. And yet without really meaning to, he gets involved with the young woman, who has, it seems, no illusions about love, especially with married men.
Before there was Play Misty for Me and Fatal Attraction……there was My Face for the World to See
Alfred Hayes a man with incredible exact and blunt prose. Detailed, immaculate however he allows the reader to insert the intensity through actions and pauses described. It’s as if he places a dot on the page and it bleeds words cumulative into penetrating text.
The narrative is a disturbing tale of an liaison between an unnamed man and woman. The man is married, working away from home. In a lifeless marriage, he suffers from loneliness. He meets the unnamed woman under exceptional conditions. He saves her from near drowning undetermined if it was intentional or accidental. We discover the woman is burdened with issues of abuse, both physical and emotional leading to mental instability.
“The girl wavered a little now, with the cap gone and the cocktail glass at sea, and then she began to walk deeper into the ocean. She was pushing out into the water now, and she evidently wasn’t, as I had thought, wading. A big breaker came in and she went under. She really went under. I shouted something and jumped off the porch.”
Leary of his companion his loneliness prevails and they continue their interaction. As the story progresses the relationship deteriorates until it hits rock bottom.
A disturbing, ugly and savage tale of two strangers and the unforeseen end of something never having a beginning, middle or end.
Published July 23rd 2013 by NYRB Classics