Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Time of Her Life

After work on her sixth (which would eventually be published as her seventh) novel stalled, Kay found herself unable to write. Anything. 

So she started doing finger exercises on the typewriter. Then, at the prompting of her publishers (at 2am in the Persian Room of the Plaza Hotel, if we take Kay at her word), she agreed to tell the story of her stories. What resulted was This Is On Me, a “hodge-podge autobiography, bubbly and easy to take throughout and really memorable in spots,” according to The American Mercury. 
The book owes its “hodge-podge” character to the fact that it is both autobiography and anthology, “interlarded” (to borrow Mercury's term) “with samples of pertinent literary work, including complete short stories.”

And though Time magazine felt the stories and sketches would not have been missed, their reviewer found This Is On Me “lively reading,” and “a welcome change from the usual preening of popular authors on How-I-Learned-To Write.” The critics, in fact, appear to have been quite unanimous in their praise; I have not found a single review that was less than glowing.

Parts of This Is On Me appeared first in Ladies’ Home Journal (beginning with the December 1939 issue) under the title Time of My Life. The Journal excerpts featured photographs that were not included when the book was published in the summer of 1940. This Is On Me was instead illustrated with simple line drawings by Susanne Suba. Suba was a successful and well-regarded artist and illustrator, but I think This Is On Me would be just that much more valuable as autobiography had the photos been retained.  

Left: This photographic timeline appeared in Ladies' Home Journal;
Above Right: Photo of a rather prim looking Kay from the book's dust jacket

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