In the early eighties we sometimes had writers and sci-fi fans stay with us in Germany. My mother always felt bit isolated as a writer and so cherished these opportunities to discuss all kinds of issues related to the world of sci-fiction and writing in general. She was also always an outgoing and sociable person who loved telling jokes and simply having a good time with people she liked and found interesting. For someone who was a writer, she always seemed quite extroverted, at least to my more introverted self.
One of the people who stayed with us on at least a couple of occasions was Marion Zimmer Bradley. Because of recent revelations I’ve been racking my brain a bit to remember the times she came to stay in greater detail.
I do remember a certain amount of eye-rolling taking place when my sister and I were told that people were coming to stay, and this was especially the case with MZB. To my teenage-self MZB seemed a profoundly odd person. Not creepy or sinister in any way- just- well- odd. (And not particularly nice or friendly).
When we first moved to Germany, after living with my dad’s brother and his family for some time, we moved into a modestly sized flat in our middle-sized German town to the south of Frankfurt. MZB came to our town at least twice, and I’m fairly certain she did stay with us on at least one occasion but on the other occasion she stayed in a small hotel down the street. Even when she did not stay at our place she spent a great deal of time there with my mother in particular and witnessed a fair amount of our everyday comings and goings.
The things we found odd about her (and this included to a certain extent our mom, who was also flattered to be on quite friendly terms with this successful writer) were:
Her odd, frumpy-looking appearance and her complete lack of interest in her appearance or her clothes. I’m pretty sure mum lent her some of her own clothes to sort of “spruce her up” for the book fare appearance.
Her outspokenness to the point of rudeness (typical to our minds of the cliche of the “loud American”) and her self-centeredness.
In connection with the lack of interest in appearance was a certain frugality/stinginess, which my mother felt somewhat odd, considering she must have been doing quite well, at the time, thanks to “The Mists of Avalon”. (which back then I felt guilty for not having read, now not so much).
Another thing I remember mom talking about and being confounded by was her lack of understanding of, or interest in, more intellectual writers such as Virginia Woolf or Henry James. I remember mum talking about how she had tried but failed to get Marion interested in such authors.
It did appear that they got along well though and had good talks.
Not at any point did she come across as sinister or manipulative, although as already noted she did come across as odd. I do remember her sort watching our family life and sometimes commenting on it: it made me think her life must be quite different. Once I heard her mention to my mother the fact that I often hummed or sang songs to myself as I went about the house, and how that must have meant I was happy (which I suppose it did, it was just something we all did quite a bit) and I realized she was observing us/me in the context of our everyday family life.
Not exactly sure why I’m posting this now—probably as some sort of reckoning with the past.