Ursule Molinaro: a look back

Ursule Molinaro (1920? – 2000)

I first discovered the works of Ursule Molinaro in a used bookstore in San
Francisco during the summer of 1990. She was a big mystery. On the cover of all her books, you couldn’t see her face. In one picture, you saw the back of her
head. I think the first book I saw by her was Thirteen Stories (1989). Both my
girlfriend and myself were very much into this book. I was attracted to the
uniqueness of her books and the original way in which she wrote. She seemed
like a writer that came from nowhere, and was totally a self-invention.

As I read some of her other books, I learned more. I read The Autobiography
of Cassandra (1992) and Power Dreamers (1993). Molinaro took classical works
and themes and re-made them. Even though her own past was a mystery, she went
back to the earliest works and gave her own touch on them. Her work often dealt
with feminism and being an individual. I read almost all of her books, but
preferred the ones that came out in the 1980s and 1990s.

I found out that she had translated some books, including ones by Herman
Hesse, Nathalie Sarraute, and Philippe Sollers. I saw some French films, by Jean-Luc Godard, where she had done the sub-titles. In one of her early books, it had said that Molinaro worked for the UN. She had lived in Paris at one time, but this was rarely mentioned in any of
the novels. Like Nabokov, Molinaro had started writing in English, and when
she moved to New York in 1949, she had become a new person.

Molinaro was also a painter. Much of her work was on the cover of her books.
That fact also gave her books a unique look. Ursule Molinaro, her name
suggests something of Italian and French decent. But when my friend Eurydice met
Ursule, I found out that she spoke Greek too, as well as French, German, Italian,
Spanish, and English. After a few years, I got up enough nerve to write a fan
letter. She wrote me back and after a few more letters, we decided to do an

I called her up one day. I asked her some questions about her latest book Fat
Skeletons (1994). At the end of the interview, she asked me “if I interviewed
male authors too?” I thought that was weird. She told me about her friend
Bruce Benderson, who had a novel coming out. I contacted Bruce. It turned out
that he was coming to San Francisco to do some readings for his book User (1995).
Bruce and I became good friends and we hung out a lot in New York when I
moved there a year later.

In 1996, when I moved to New York City, Ursule was one of the people who I
wanted to meet. I don’t think anyone knew how old she was at this time, but I am
guessing around 75. She lived on 2nd street near First Avenue. She told me to
meet her at her apartment. She would be waiting outside. Ursule was very
fragile. She was waiting outside her apartment. She told me to call a cab. One
finally came by and I helped her get inside. We went to Café Jacqueline on the
other side of town, in Greenwich Village. Mostly we just talked about every day
things. We probably talked about Bruce. Everything was very present tense.
There was never any mention of the “good old days.” I think that I brought a few
books to her to sign. I told Ursule that I had a book coming out soon. She
suggested I should call myself “Laurence Alexander Laurence.”

I probably saw Bruce a few times after this. I met up with him and Ursule,
and another French couple, and we had some food on Second Avenue near St Marks
Place. Of course, this time, it was mostly in French, and I struggled to keep
up. Ursule seemed annoyed with me. I saw a movie called “My Father Is Coming”
that featured Bruce Benderson and Lynne Tillman. If you look at the end of the
film, Ursule is there holding a Chinese umbrella. It looks like it was filmed
outside her apartment in the East Village.

For about two years, Bruce would give me updates on Ursule. She became
anti-social and it was more difficult for her to go out. I had heard that she had
died in the summer of 2000. There was a wake and celebration of her work at
Poetry Project that fall.

There was about twenty of so people. Her publisher, Bruce McPherson, was
there. Some other writers like Janice Eidus and Joseph McElroy spoke about her.
Bruce Benderson spoke at the end. He gave an irreverent speech. Bruce said that
Ursule would have disapproved of such an event. I had known Ursule Molinaro
for a few years, and I had spent some time with her, but she was still as
mysterious as before. Who she was? Who she was before she came to America. Her
personal life could only be patched together by those who knew her. And even for
Bruce, who knew her as well as anyone, Ursule was a stranger. She truly
disappeared in her art and her writings.

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RIP indie 103

This is an important message for the Indie 103.1 Radio Audience -

Indie 103.1 will cease broadcasting over this frequency effective immediately. Because of changes in the radio industry and the way radio audiences are measured, stations in this market are being forced to play too much Britney, Puffy and alternative music that is neither new nor cutting edge. Due to these challenges, Indie 103.1 was recently faced with only one option — to play the corporate radio game.

We have decided not to play that game any longer. Rather than changing the sound, spirit, and soul of what has made Indie 103.1 great Indie 103.1 will bid farewell to the terrestrial airwaves and take an alternative course.

This could only be done on the Internet, a place where rules do not apply and where new music thrives; be it grunge, punk, or alternative - simply put, only the best music.

For those of you with a computer at home or at work, log on to www.indie1031.com and listen to the new Indie 103.1 - which is really the old Indie 103.1, not the version of Indie 103.1 we are removing from the broadcast airwaves.

We thank our listeners and advertisers for their support of the greatest radio station ever conceived, and look forward to continuing to deliver the famed Indie 103.1 music and spirit over the Internet to passionate music listeners around the world.
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WIRE: tour canceled

German tour and London show cancelled: Wire are sorry to have to announce the cancellation of January's German tour and the preceding warm-up show at Cargo in London. This is due to a domestic accident suffered by bassist Graham Lewis. Graham says: "I've injured my left hand. My doctor has advised me that I will not have recovered sufficiently, in time to undertake the German tour. Therefore we (Wire) felt it best to cancel the tour as quickly as possible to minimise inconvenience. We are very sorry about this and hope to reschedule the German tour as soon as possible, and to be back performing at full strength by the end of February."
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2009 was very arty farty and weird

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