Tag Archives: Dominick Dunne

Seven Quick Takes Friday – High and Dry.

Seven Quick Takes Friday

  1. We were one of the lucky ones in Toronto this week: no water damage and no power outages. Didn’t even get affected by what I presume were rolling blackouts that hit my hair salon (and their tankless water heater) just as I arrived for my appointment. Luckily it was short and I didn’t need to have a cold-water shampoo. That being said, Zouheir had to walk down twenty floors to leave his building on Monday night as they had no power, and his commutes home were miserably long for a couple of days. But the humidity has broken and the city is drying out.
  2. My “nephew” Feras arrived from the LA last Saturday. I put nephew in quotation marks as he’s actually Zouheir’s first-cousin-once removed, but he calles us Amo and Tante as is the custom in the middle east (calling older family members uncle and aunt.) He’s originally from Syria, just finished high school there, and needs to learn English. Life in LA is pretty much constrained to arabic in his social circle so a summer in Toronto with a few weeks at a language school will be just the ticket to get him ready for college. Needless to say, the rain storm was somewhat alarming for him, but we assured him that this was atypical and he shouldn’t expect that kind of rain again during his stay. He’s heading up to the cottage with Alex and a passel of Alex’s friends this weekend, which should make for a grand introduction to the way young people in Canada spend their free time when there’s no internet. (I believe it may involve beer, barbecuing, and a hookah. And Alex just mentioned something about teaching Feras beer pong.)
    Feras and Zouheir whiling away some time during the big rainstorm.
    Feras and Zouheir whiling away some time during the big rainstorm.
  3. I am very excited about our upcoming trip to Istanbul in August. All signs are go for the voyage, and I’ve decided to craft a funky travel journal like this. I’ve picked up some fabric and have been collecting papers to incorporate into it. As soon as I finish up some framing projects, I’ll get started. (Pro-tip: scour thrift stores for ugly art in nice frames, make/buy new mats if necessary, and then frame the cheap but attractive art you buy when travelling. Have saved mucho dinero over buying new/pro framing.)
  4. Went to my first Fringe Festival performance yesterday, and it was fab. It was down at Theatre Passe Muraille Backstage, a one-man show called The Nature of a Bullet. Actor Nick Dipchand has been mentored by a friend of mine who encouraged me to see the show and she joined me there. Nick is a marvel, taking on a number of characters in his 50 minute performance. I’d met him a couple of times before and we had a little chat afterwards. If you’re in Toronto and don’t mind mature language, check it out.
    Nick Dipchand in The Nature of a Bullet.
  5. New books this week! For my birthday, my boys gave me a couple off my wish list: Don’t Go Where I Can’t Follow by Anders Nilsen, a gorgeous story stitched together with emails, postcards, letters, etc., and My Canada Includes Foie Gras: A Culinary Life
    by Jacob Richler, all about his life experiences with Canadian food, starting out from his childhood at home with his father, Mordecai.
    In my ongoing fascination with the life and works of Dominick Dunne, my browsing at Value Village produced The Way We Lived
    Cover of "The Way We Lived Then : Recolle...
    Cover via Amazon

    Then: Recollections of a Well-Known Name Dropper by Dunne, a gorgeous memoir containing many black and while photographs, mostly by the author. I also found a book of fashion photography and closeups of fabric designs from the 60s called Flower Power. It also came with a CD containing the designs. The clerk, thinking it was a magazine, charged me 99 cents. The fabric design pages will make great wrapping/book-making paper.

  6. It was in one of Dunne’s books that I first heard the term “walker” to designate younger men hired to accompany aging socialites around town, sort of a good-looking personal assistant/escort. In yesterday’s National Post column by Shinan Govani, he prints a help-wanted ad, purportedly placed by one Alison Eastwood (who looks too young to need one, but who am I to judge?). Check it out here.
  7. From my Facebook feed today. This dog has been trained to detect American foulbrood, some kind of disease that wipes out bees. I just love working dogs, and if you do too, go and read the whole piece here.
    Bazz the beekeeping dog.

The novel as gossip

Dominick Dunne
Dominick Dunne (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


I’m on my second Dominick Dunne novel this year. He wrote a regular society/crime column in Vanity Fair up to his death in 2009 and his novels are thinly disguised tales of such goings on, in which the narrator is a society columnist and writer.

In March I read A Season in Purgatory which tells the (disguised and altered) tale of the murder of Martha Moxley by Michael Skakel, nephew of Ethel Skakel Kennedy. There are still attempts to overturn Skakel’s conviction for this murder that happened in 1975. (See links below.)

Currently I’m reading Dunne’s final novel, written just before his death in 2009, called Too Much Money which revolves around a coterie of aging socialites, one of which is in “reduced circumstances”, one trying to recover their caché after her husband’s  stint in prison (or “the facility” as she constantly corrects her friends and acquaintances), and the young gay men who are the “walkers” of these elderly wome.

Dunne’s books read like an extended article in a gossip magazine, but with big(ger) words. They’re kind of a kick and real page-turners. There are lots of tidbits about homes, furniture, clothing and accessories that I find fascinating. In Too Much Money, Gus Bailey [the Dominick Dunne character] talks about the notebooks he uses:

Gus wrote notes in his green leather notebook from Smythson of Bond Street in London; Stokes Bishop [his editor at the magazine] gave him one for Christmas every year.

So of course I checked out Smythson of Bond Street online, being the stationery nerd that I am. It was probably something like this:

Smythson Panama Notebook, 3.5″x 5.5″, £45

I don’t read gossip magazines unless I find myself in the hair salon or a pedicure chair without my current book, but I get my fill of the rich and famous this way. It’s not the most productive use of my reading time, but a good break from heavier, more literary reading.