For your summer reading pleasure, BURNAWAY brings you Just Like Suicide, a novel by artist Mery Lynn McCorkle, set in the Los Angeles art world. She writes from experience, having lived for years in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, when it still was the art frontier, and then LA; she now resides in Rome, Georgia. She describes the book as “a compendium of interlocking tales cataloguing self demolition and success in the Los Angeles art scene, from the point of view of artists, dealers and family members.”
We’ll post sequential chapters from McCorkle’s book every Wednesday and Friday over the summer (and on Monday’s beginning in August!). Or click here to buy the book now.
Sitting outside in the sun in February was glorious, Maggie thought as she stretched across the chaise on the flagstone patio, bare toes wiggling in the warm sunlight. This is why so many women had painted toenails in LA. Toes could spend so much time unconfined here. LA, home of Liberated Appendages. Maybe she should indulge in painting them a pale olive green like the color of the aloes. Not too feminine, a statement. In a week, though, they’d be chipped. Best to keep them natural. She stretched again, staring lazily at the cloudless blue sky, that perfect winter blue possible without pollution. Clusters of buds forming on the tangerine tree by the fence. Green parrots raising a ruckus up the hill. Nothing was finer than LA on a clear day in February. She took a sip of the coffee beside her and smiled. Back home she would be huddled in front of an inadequate heater. Except this was home now. Some days she still couldn’t get over how lucky she was to be here. Spending three winters in New York for school restored every ounce of her gratitude.
With Odessa on a weekend trip to New York equipped with Maggie’s subarctic coat, Maggie was house sitting and in charge of the gallery. She even sold a small piece to a very cute collector yesterday. Odessa will be pleased.
The problem with house sitting was that regardless of how much she brought with her, she always left something she needed at her place. This time around it was a coffee table sized book on Pop art. The cute collector had made some pretty interesting observations about the use of repeating patterns in the piece she purchased and Maggie couldn’t find suitably informative answers online which she could use to amplify her own comments when she delivered the painting at the end of the show. Odessa had given her the book, loaned it actually, and a chapter she had skimmed was about Andy Warhol’s use of repeating patterns based on his background in marketing. Repetition, as she discussed with the cute collector, could be viewed as a didactic tool, engraving the information into memory, while simultaneously allowing a heightened sensitivity to the nuances within the repetitions. The collector pursed her lips slightly, almost forming a kiss, and mentioned the assembly line aspect of repeated images. They both agreed that repetition tended paradoxically to enhance the meditative. Maggie laughed afterwards because both of them obviously felt so damned smart talking like this. Highfalutin’ her poor momma would call it.
It was Sunday, though, and a day of rest in the sun was too delicious to curtail to resume researching Warholian influences. After she had consumed the pot of coffee and watched the hummingbirds attacking each other at the feeder, she noticed all the brand new freckles along her arms. Oh crap, she’d forgotten to put on sunscreen and her legs were turning positively pink. Snatching up all the biographies and art magazines around her, she scurried inside to slather herself with aloe cream. Not a bad burn, just a salutary reminder to be careful. For sure she shouldn’t sit in the sun any more today. And it was just too pretty outside to stay inside. Well, that made this as good a time as any to drive over and grab the book for research and see how Barbara’s editing was going. Still, isn’t it so splendid to venture out with short sleeves and sandals, all before Valentine’s day? With the car windows rolled down and her short hair whipping around, she drove over to their apartment off Santa Monica Boulevard. The traffic, for once, was not oppressively slow. Laurel Canyon was usually backed up but not today. As she zipped around all the curves, she laughed at herself: how funny that hitting thirty miles per hour actually felt kind of dangerous.
Their place was not a practical location for them. It was very close to UCLA. Barbara naturally went to USC on the other side of town forcing her into a horrible commute. Parking was always impossible on the street. The building had valets to park vehicles around the block in a secure building. Leaving was so slow, even after calling ahead. Since she wanted just to pop in, she bribed the valet with a small box of coconut cookies from Trader Joe’s to let her park the Volvo behind the black truck at the service entrance, leaving her keys with him, just in case.