All day, the blogger at Bella's Bookshelves has been tweeting about her pleasure in reading After Claude by Iris Owens. Which got us thinking that the book's heroine, Harriet Daimler, with her take-no-prisoners strategy and her viper-tongue, might make a good role model this winter. Let's not take this miserable season lying down, let's rally our wits and bitch at it until it relents. We're all Harriet Daimlers now.
Here Maxine, an old friend, tries to offer Harriet some advice:
“Well,” she demanded, “what’s happening between you and Claude? Isn’t he planning to marry you and take you back to Paris with him?”
If there’s one thing on this earth that irritates me, it’s when a dumpy, frigid, former nymphomaniac assumes that my tongue is hanging out, thirsting for marital bliss. It goes without saying that though ideally suited and ecstatically happy, Jerry and Maxine had flown directly from their wedding ceremony to group therapy, paying top prices for the privilege of insulting each other in front of an audience.
“I’ll make you a promise, Maxine, and then let’s adjourn this summit conference. I promise you that the day I decide to marry anyone I hate as much as you hate Jerry, one: you’ll be the first to know, and two: I’ll seek professional help.”
Did Maxine get the message and leave me in peace? Not a chance. She sat there radiant with superior knowledge. “My dear, that is precisely your sickness. You think everybody hates their life. You’re wrong. I don’t hate Jerry. I love him. My heart may not palpitate when he walks into the room, but I’m happy with him. I appreciate his devotion and goodness. I love our child, our home.”
“Excuse me very much, but if it’s love, sweet love, that makes you parade the streets like a crazed drag queen, if it’s happiness that drives you to come sniffing around here like a starved alley cat, give me hate and misery.”
Of course, Harriet Daimler was also the name under which Iris Owens wrote pornographic novels for the legendary Olympia Press. So maybe we should be looking to this young lady, who graced the cover of a reprint of Owens's notorious rape-fantasy novel, Darling (if not to the contents of the book). She radiates joy of the kind hard to find in bleak midwinter.