Jamaica Kincaid's office at Claremont-Mc Kenna college, where she is a literature professor, is filled with hints of her political leanings. Born Elaine Potter Richardson in colonial Antigua, Kincaid came to the United States at 16, sent by her cash-strapped family to work as an au pair in Scarsdale, the tony New York City suburb. It was a time in my life when I was especially interested in frivolities. He thought I was funny, so he would take me to events with him, and I would say something, and he would write it down. I think a woman is powerless if she cannot freely claim the right to her reproductive capacity.
There's an Obama mug, a statuette of the Lincoln memorial, and—"just for provocation," she insists—a miniature bust of Karl Marx. By 25, Kincaid had landed a staff writer job at .) It's a stark, modern anatomy of married life that packs in everything from a cross-dressing neighbor to a Nintendo-junkie son. It was because I was writing about my family, my mother especially, and I didn't want her to know. I've always been afraid of her knowing of my failures. I used to have very short hair that I bleached blonde, and shaved off my eyebrows and painted them in, and wore clothes from the '20s or '30s. I would spend hours getting dressed and then I would go to the offices of —I was just beginning to be a "Talk" reporter—and hang out with my friends Ian Frazier and George Trow. And the things I said began to appear in "Talk of the Town"; George would say "we went somewhere with our sassy black friend Jamaica Kincaid" and the whole rest of it would be something I had said. Society can talk about anything it likes, except a woman's reproductive existence.
I don't remember writing, because I wouldn't have had the tools, but I think what they are saying is that I would , when I was 10. JK: The author bio said that she had lived in Belgium as a nanny, and she was very poor and she suffered. I tried to get jobs in magazines and I never got them because I couldn't really type very well, and also they didn't really hire young black women. I didn't really understand racism because I grew up in an all-black society, so I didn't see how it was possible not to like me! We started to talk, and he said, "I know someone who would like you very much! I wrote something, and I thought they were just my notes and little thoughts. MJ: In your own writing, female characters find strength in their femininity—in their own bodies, and in sex. I married a man who was Jewish, and we had children. Whereas I remember it as, you know, not having enough time—the room I wrote in was off the kitchen because even though they had a nanny, I liked knowing what was going on with them and I didn't want to close myself off.
Suddenly you go downstairs and the pine floor is a gravel pit.When I showed up to interview her a few weeks before the election, and the topic inevitably arose, Kincaid paused abruptly and looked down at her outfit in mock horror. In our wide-ranging chat, Kincaid talked about her motherly shortcomings, converting to Judaism, and her brief career singing backup for a celebrity drag queen.  And one day he said, "Would you like to meet [editor-in-chief] Mr. I wear it every day." Her political sensibilities are not surprising, given the prominence of class and race in her work, not to mention her personal history. I'm surprised they're not on the internet—thank To show you how silly I was: I was a backup singer for a transvestite named Holly Woodlawn—she was one of Andy Warhol's superstars. So in the hot climate of Antigua, I'd pile on things and pretend I was cold and I was all alone in Belgium and I had written JK: I stayed on my friends' couches. " And he introduced me to George, who adopted me as a sister. JK: You know how they say a man's house is his castle? I feel so strongly about a woman's right to choose. It's not a "right" any more than it's a right to breathe, to take in oxygen. I thought that bringing them up with knowledge of Jewish tradition would make their lives more complete. I remember once reading something Nora Ephron said: that anything that's good for you is bad for your children. I think my children in some ways felt that my success interfered with their complete happiness, and I think a lot of mothers feel that way. There's nothing to say about "having it all," or women should have this—life is difficult. There's a sentence in the new book that's two pages long… ] MJ: I mean, I know it's not autobiographical, but…
My son would send me the release, because he and I like that. Gore and that other senator's wife were talking about the lyrics of rap music? But it didn't affect me the way, say, magazine did. I think children don't see their parents as accomplished; they just think, "Oh, there's Mom." MJ: Heracles and Persephone resent their mom for spending so much time writing. You know when Kanye West was releasing a song a week, every Friday? My mother always told me she never read anything I wrote, which was marvelous because it meant I could write about her as much as I liked. I've always been glad that they never saw me as a writer. What's the point of doing something like this—writing, or making something—if you're going to have people in mind?