When J Edgar Hoover met Emma Goldman
Saturday 13 July 1996
Two weeks later Wilson invited her to dinner. Her colleagues on the Review were afraid she might disgrace them by not being sufficiently modern in her literary tastes; in a briefing that afternoon, one of them pressed daiquiris upon her to prepare her for what he said would be a "dry" dinner. Instead, it began with several rounds of Manhattans, and although McCarthy later recalled trying to be scintillating, she also passed out.
An unpromising beginning - but all writers imbibed wildly in those days. Wilson was charmed by McCarthy's bright intelligence, her impulsiveness, her wooing of him. Apparently I liked him much more than I remember," she said later.
Enough to marry him, and then question why for the rest of her life. It was his prose style, she once said; another time, his classical education, or because he was upper-class and Protestant - that quarter of her own heritage which she preferred. Or it was what he could do for her as a writer, and did, pushing her into creativity. Or perhaps (her Catholic side) it was as punishment for having gone to bed with him - marriage as absolution for sin. As in all failed unions, there are the given reasons and the real reasons.
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