Honestly, the Siren wants to write something but it's like trying to dig an MG Midget out of a snowdrift. Just getting the time to watch anything has been a chore. Daylight is approaching, however.
In the meantime, the Siren turns to her beloved George Sanders, who had some decided ideas about how to keep a reading audience interested, as he here demonstrates in a letter to Brian Aherne.
In the late 1950s Aherne and Sanders, good friends for many years, were simultaneously writing their respective memoirs. Aherne assures us that both autobiographies were remaindered quickly, but Sanders' Memoirs of a Professional Cad is now an out-of-print cult item, commanding prices that start at about $80 to $100 for a battered second-hand copy. Some years after Sanders' suicide, Aherne collected his reminiscences of and correspondence with his friend (and Sanders' longtime wife Benita) into a book called A Dreadful Man, from which this letter is taken.
6th September 1959
I think you will find if you tell the truth in your autobiography nobody will be interested and you will find it difficult not to be pompous and dull. It doesn't matter if the title of the book is misleading, as long as it's eye-catching and intriguing, and it doesn't matter if its contents are silly if they are entertaining. As a suitable title for your book I suggest,
INDISCRETIONS OF A FORLORN APRICOT
"Take that you bastard!" said Joan Fontaine, her strong little fist connecting with my chin. Lightning exploded in my brain and I went down for the count of ten. As consciousness returned, my mind drifted back to my boyhood in Birmingham. I thought of the poignance of first love, the unforgettable spring when Birmingham's air, soft, richly thick and grey, and fragrant like an unwashed bedsock, made my heart beat faster. And she came running towards me, my little Beryl, her little fist outstretched and her high, childish voice crying to me, "Take that you bastard!"
My reverie was cut short by the emergence of Louis B. Mayer from the bathroom. I understood at once that my career was ruined. I had caught the great L.B. in a compromising situation with my wife! It was unforgivable. I knew then that my contract would be dropped and I would be relegated to spending the rest of my life on tour with Katharine Cornell.
End of Chapter one.
That's the kind of thing to give the public.
The Siren here adds that Aherne was married to Joan Fontaine at one time. As she hasn't read Aherne's autobiography, A Proper Job, she doesn't know how dear Joan comes off in it, but Fontaine's descriptions of Aherne in her own book seem to indicate a certain desire to settle scores.
British-born Aherne also spent part of his childhood in Birmingham. Aside from that, the only other bit of truth is that Aherne was, in fact, on tour with Katharine Cornell in 1959, which Sanders weaves into the narrative with characteristic tact.
Given Sanders' attitude toward memoir-writing, the Siren thinks that when she does get Memoirs of a Professional Cad, she will be setting it next to the salt-cellar, even as she eats up every word.
More on Sanders here.
James Wolcott weighs in with a delicious excerpt from Memoirs of a Professional Cad. Be warned, you will be defrosting the credit card to get your own copy.