A Very Heavily Negative Scene
The squandered genius and countercultural misogyny of Terry Southern.
by Mark O'Connell for Slate Book Review
In her editorâ€™s note at the start of Yours in Haste and Adoration: Selected Letters of Terry Southern, Brooke Allenâ€”who co-edited the book with Southernâ€™s son Nileâ€”mentions that her own father was a friend of Southernâ€™s and a frequent recipient of his famously extravagant correspondence. â€œWhile his friendship with my father remained firm,â€ she writes, â€œmy mother had less patience with his vagaries and she banned his visits after he set fire to our apartment in the early 1960s. I very much regret not having known him better.â€ No further mention is made of the incident, either in Allenâ€™s note or in the letters that follow, but itâ€™s an instructive remarkâ€”in the casual absurdity of such an anecdote appearing in an editorâ€™s note, certainly, but also in the suggestion that setting a hostâ€™s apartment on fire was not an especially big deal, and more or less the sort of thing youâ€™d have to expect if you invited Terry Southern over to stay for a bit... Click here to read the full review.