I’m taking a break from the novel I’m writing, a roman-à-clef centering upon the rather awkward, even preposterous, union — a mutually unsatisfying one-night stand, as it happens, that occurred in 1950 — between two icons of modern literature.*
At least some of my reluctance, hesitance, stems from having as yet no title. Or no unequivocal title. I’ve been going back and forth between two that might work. Certainly each satisfies the clef part of that genre rubric, giving you just enough information, the “key,” to solve any mystery as to who these protagonists, real people, must be — he the legendary priapic, she the committed lesbian alcoholic. (Committed to both.)
And to accompany my tentative titles I have, so far, two decent descriptive sentences, among many that are not so good …
“Holding a nearly devoured cigarette in his right hand, with the other he clumsily fumbled at the ice-cold, metal fly-buttons of her 501s.”
“After several minutes, during which — her seducer crouching and otherwise engaged — she poured and drank three neat scotches, H——– finally became impatient, taking into her own enormous hands those five stubborn buttons and disengaging them as if for a quick piddle in the woods.”
As to my working titles, neither settled on just yet, one is The Price of Arthur, the other Flaccid at Noon.
*See p 293 of Joan Schenkar’s The Talented Miss Highsmith (St Martin’s Press, 2009), in which Schenkar cites in her footnote Diary No. 10, from October of 1950.