Desperately Seeking Susan Sontag

Terry Castle in the London Review of Books:

No doubt hundreds (thousands?) of people knew Susan Sontag better than I did. For ten years ours was an on-again, off-again, semi-friendship, constricted by role-playing and shot through in the end with mutual irritation. Over the years I laboured to hide my growing disillusion, especially during my last ill-fated visit to New York, when she regaled me – for the umpteenth time – about the siege of Sarajevo, the falling bombs, and how the pitiful Joan Baez had been too terrified to come out of her hotel room. Sontag flapped her arms and shook her big mannish hair – inevitably described in the press as a ‘mane’ – contemptuously. That woman is a fake! She tried to fly back to California the next day! I was there for months. Through all of the bombardment, of course, Terry. Then she ruminated. Had I ever met Baez? Was she a secret lesbian? I confessed that I’d once waited in line behind the folk singer at my cash machine (Baez lives near Stanford) and had taken the opportunity to inspect the hairs on the back of her neck. Sontag, who sensed a rival, considered this non-event for a moment, but after further inquiries, was reassured that I, her forty-something slave girl from San Francisco, still preferred her to Ms Diamonds and Rust.

More here.