Men know women and women know men, but some are worth writing about more than others. This blog is to launch ten short stories about women I have known. The first short story is about how, as a boy in Holland, I met Audrey Hepburn, who developed from a young Dutch girl wrecked by World War II to one of the most beloved and enchanting film stars ever. And how I met her again in Switzerland. A story I can’t forget and would like to share with you and which her son, Sean Hepburn Ferrer, found “a sweet story” when I asked him to have a look at it.
Some of the “short story women” left a lasting impression on me (such as Audrey Hepburn and my grandmother, “Lady D”) and some shared part of my life. Some are left out because writing about them would be too painful.
Meeting women of different plumage seems to have been my star-enforced fate. I always felt that astrology had something to do with it. One astrologer told me that it was because I was born at 1:00 o’clock in the night when the moon stood at a particular angle to Mother Earth in the Scorpion month. My stars pointed to eternal adjustment (euphemism for continual trouble), and that included women.
My grand uncle-author, Joost van der Poorten Schwartz (pen name “Maarten Maartens”, see my blog of October 18, 2013) wrote books one hundred years ago, widely read in America, England, and Germany, and one of his books was a collection of short stories entitled Some Women I have known. After reading these often humorous short stories, written in the Victorian age, I decided to write my own Some Women, though content and style are of course totally different from the great-uncle.
Apart from his eloquence as an author, which I surely do not pretend to match, his Some Women is more a blend of satire and psychological realism of female characters in his time, and a reflection on marriage as it evolved in the upper-class in his days. His characters are fiction, likely painted from people he met. The stories are approached from an objective angle – probably the reason why he wrote them in the third person despite the title – although his stories do contain autobiographical elements. My stories are based on real characters I met – mostly in romantic relationships – and they are written in the first person because of the autobiographical elements. A few stories are “memoir”-type such as “Audrey” and “Lady D”. As a consequence, I borrowed my uncle’s title as a hull for my own stories, while their content and approach are different and from a personal angle.
In several stories names and places were changed, where needed, to avoid complaining phone calls or knocks on my front door. Maarten Maartens was accused by people who thought his characters resembled them! Here is where non-fiction, memoir and autobiographical fiction must draw a fine line.
The short stories will appear on a monthly basis, probably in the second half of each month.
Coming soon. Stay on the look out.