Pseudo-review: Mrya Breckenridge, the novel–not the movie!
I saw the movie thirty-five (or so) years ago1. Somehow the movie stayed with me–and not only because of Raquel Welch who is, other than Rita Hayworth, the only Hollywood bombshell worth gawking at like a fifteen year old man-boy run amok with girly magazines. At the least, reading Gore Vidal’s Empire series helped in finally getting me to his novels even though Myra Breckenridge made my have to read before I die list only around fifteen years ago2. And so. I finally got around to it the other day. And that’s what matters, right? Finally getting around to something? The worst-word now is: thank goodness I finally got around to it.
My first thought was: why did it take so long? Second thought was: hallelujah! Then again, there was that one chapter (Chapter 29!) where Myra straps on a dildo and has her way with an aspiring young Adonis-like acting student thereby changing him and his personality… Hollywood-forever-more. As uncomfortable as that chapter was, reading it kind of solidified where the novel, and Vidal, was actually going. For. Indeed. Dear worst-reader. It was a tough chapter to read. But get through it I did. And so. Is my manliness still intact–unlike Rusty’s?
The capacity for wit and humour and more wit knows no bounds in this book. Does that mean it’s opened my mind to read more of Vidal’s novels–since I’ve only read his historical novels and various essays up to now? By-the-buy, the reason for reading only his historical novels is simple. Like most #Americants , important things get lost in the ether of the greed $hitshow. Or they get lost in the hope and want of Disney. Or both. At the least, being an #Aemricant can be very convoluting. And so. Every #Americant should read Gore Vidal’s Empire novels. In fact, all public schools in my beloved & missed united mistakes of #Americant should stop all the pseudo-history they’ve been learned (taught) so far. In fact, fire all the pseudo-teachers (of history) now. Simply replace it/them all with reading Vidal’s Empire series. You know, Burr, Lincoln, etc. It’s probably the best way to learn our history, don’t you know. But on that note, I should digress.
The version of Myra I have also contains Myron, which is supposed to be a follow-up novel. But I also ordered The City And The Pillar which I’ve prioritised to read next–unless I get to another Empire novel. I guess I’ll eventually get to Myron but somehow I’m not as motivated. Perhaps Myra was enough. Indeed. I’m really, finally, thinking more in terms of getting around to finally reading Washington DC, which is the one important Empire novel I’ve still not read. I’m actually missing something in my soul since I haven’t read one of Vidal’s Empire novels in awhile–and perhaps also because of finally reading Myra. Again. Nomatter.
Myra Breckenridge is a hoot to read. Set in Hollywood of, I guess, the 60s, Myra is a teacher of sorts at an acting academy. And guess what she teaches? That’s right. At an acting school in Hollywood she doesn’t teach acting. No. She teaches posture and empathy. Who would have guessed that such a thing exists/is required for Hollywood? In fact, the great scene (Chapter 29) where she tries to set the story’s Adonis-like acting student’s spine straight by breaking his heterosexuality, she does so in the name of… wait for it. Posture. Although Myra’s motivation is to dominate and manipulate others (a well established #Americant Hollywood creed) via her fluid if not didactic sexuality, she is also obsessed with another burgeoning #Americant-ism: that of acquiring wealth without means, i.e. through the death of her late husband Myron. I’m now convinced Vidal had something quite different in mind with Myra other than creating something for $hits & giggles–which is the #Americant way of dealing with sex. By-the-buy, such an iconic (literary) character could never be properly portrayed in a prude #Americant movie of the 1970s–even if it did star one of the greatest bombshells of the twentieth century. I’m worst-wondering if the film could/should be remade? Nah. #Americant still ain`t ready for it.
Considering the discourse today regarding sexuality, compared to what I grew up with, e.g. hardcore 1960 > 1970 feminism plus a krapp load of closeted gays, Vidal just might be a prophet above and beyond his fictionalisation of history as he’s done so well with his Empire novels. At the least, what Vidal writes about in Myra is only slightly askew from my personal experience(s), although I never met a transexual… a transgender… Sorry, I’m still confused about all that stuff. Nor have I ever lived in Hollywood. But I have crossed paths wit a bunch of fags in my day. Nomatter.
Much has been said about Myra Breckenridge since its publishing (1968). But I’m curious if much of what need be said has been said about it. You know, #Americants and prudes do find a way to suppress this sort of stuff in the best and usually not subtle ways. On the other hand, Vidal has seen into the future with this book. A future I’m now living in. The only thing missing from it, IMHO, is a proper conclusion. Perhaps I’ll get that conclusion after reading Myron. Then again, my guess is I won’t. That’s the one criticism I have of this book. It’s too much about Vidal’s personal POV regarding his sexuality which I’m guessing is old school faggism. You know, no anal, lots of hand-jobs, a few more blowjobs, no PDA and never, ever, go overboard with acting über-feminine. Or maybe not.
Myra Breckenridge (the novel) is something between a kind of Hollywood soap-opera and a very dark comedy run amok. But I think Vidal’s text says a lot more than portraying a man as a woman as a man. This book is a depiction of #Americant and its true face, including its true heart and how morally corrupt it all really is–simply because of the confusion caused by what is really amorality. Yeah, so much for family values, eh! Read in 2019, it’s still as sad and sorrowful and infantile, yet also inspiring, as it should be. If only #Americants (like Vidal) could be as unapologetically hi-larry-us as the Brits with, say, their Monty Python stuff. Or maybe not.
PS Compared to the book, the movie really does suck–although it might squeeze out a laugh or two while gawking at Raquel Welch.