Buy birthday present, go to morgue

Colm Tóibín

  • Diane Arbus: Portrait of a Photographer by Arthur Lubow
    Cape, 734 pp, £35.00, October 2016, ISBN 978 0 224 09770 3
  • Silent Dialogues: Diane Arbus and Howard Nemerov by Alexander Nemerov
    Fraenkel Gallery, 106 pp, $30.00, March 2015, ISBN 978 1 881337 41 6

The week before he was fired from MGM, late in 1931, Scott Fitzgerald was having lunch with the screenwriter Dwight Taylor in the company canteen when something, or even two things, more disturbing than his own drunken dreams appeared and sat at his table. The apparition was a pair of Siamese twins. ‘One of them picked up the menu,’ Taylor remembered, ‘and, without even looking at the other asked: “What are you going to have?” Scott turned pea-green and, putting his hand to his mouth, rushed for the great outdoors.’

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