Friday, January 11, 2019


Mary McCarthy
Though she [Alice Brayton] claimed off and on to be a Quaker I think she had no particular religion.  She was a natural rebel (that was the great thing about her), naturally independent in her views, and what she worshipped was a kind of intelligence that, given her self-imposed limitations, had to be visual and aesthetic.  Once I heard her enunciate almost fiercely the principle she lived for, standing by her mantelpiece, chin out, like one willing to be counted.  “Taste!” she cried, virtually shouting.  “T-A-S-T-E.”  She spelled it out as if we might fail to understand her and then struck her small chest.  “I have it.  T-A-S-T-E.”  She stared at us all belligerently.  “Yes, Miss Brayton.  Of course you have”  We laughed.  “Obviously you have.”  The proof was all around us, in the flames leaping in the fireplace, in the shaker of unbeatable martinis, in the sandwiches of thin-cut soft white bread, thick white meat of chicken, and Bertha’s [her cook's] mayonnaise.  But it was tasteless of her to say so.
     - Mary McCarthy, “The Very Unforgettable Miss Brayton” (1983)

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