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.
They had alerted her at the tail end of the book club meeting that Mercury was going into retrograde starting on Thursday afternoon. “Expect confusion in relationships and avoid making any major decisions,” they warned her. “It’s the time when fated events crop up, Odessa. Be as non-reactive as you can be.”
The ladies issued ominous astrological warnings every single month without fail, so one of these predictions was bound to happen.
This time it was on the money.
On Thursday, she was late leaving the gallery because of a talkative lookyloo. Normally she didn’t mind endless questions, even rather ignorant ones, because she enjoyed educating genuinely interested people about art. But she was starving because she hadn’t had lunch and knew the cupboards at home were basically bare. She simply had to pop into the grocery store after work. It’s a rule in life: whenever you’re in a hurry, you can count on finding every one of the grocery lines stacked with waiting carts, each one loaded to the gills. All for four measly little items. By the time she made it to second in line, she was hungry enough to eat all the breath mints and candy bars lining her pathway. To divert herself from temptation, she picked up the different tabloids one after another and flipped through them. Who didn’t enjoy the hyperbole of the headlines, their sense of urgency and fake outrage, the way they put other lives into perspective? Regardless of how bad the week was, at least her daughter wasn’t giving birth to a two headed child. Thumbing through the final one on the rack, she was startled to find a large photo of Lawrence kissing his young blonde assistant with considerable zest. Well, kissing was just part of it. They were wrapped around each other tighter than the sides of a pretzel. The shock of it was surprisingly painful, like a good sized mule had hauled off and kicked her in the stomach. Well, there was an up side to it: that photo sure did kill her appetite. By the time she carried the groceries inside her house, she’d recovered enough to start thinking of him as “that old goat.” There’s a certain clarity in indignation and she felt really clear.
Friday at least had started out pleasantly enough. She took Dennis’s car to the gallery because it really needed driving. There was also some comfort in sitting within the contours of his imprint on the soft leather seat.
When she opened up the gallery’s front doors, Lori’s drawings, all framed and hanging on pristine white walls, looked clean and professional. Downright spiffy. The only problem was that the small framed sketch by the door was no longer perfectly level. No big deal. The passing trucks sometimes rattled that spot for some reason so she added another nail to hang it on. Two nails usually worked like a charm. Stepping back she smiled with positive pride: Maggie really had gotten quite good at installation. The work flowed well visually, but she found herself regretting that she hadn’t taken more photographs to document the drawings while they were still up in the studio. For most art, simply displaying it on the clean, white walls made the work look stronger. With Lori’s, it was a toss-up for Odessa. She liked seeing them with the stray marks on the walls, the scribbles and smears extending off the paper and the areas rubbed until the wall showed through. In the studio, the drawings seemed to grow out of the wall organically. It gave them more immediacy, more spitfire, like they were pushing their way off the wall, struggling toward the light. Even under immaculate gallery conditions, these were all remarkably alive, all those teeth and elbows seething on the paper.