Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Henry Miller is Under My Bed

A new book released in February 2008 apparently offers some interpretation and biographical information, in part, on Henry Miller. Henry Miller is Under My Bed: People And Places on my Way to Paris (Starhaven, London) is an autobiography of its author, Mary Duncan, a university professor whose academic specialty was children in regions of conflict, such as Belfast, Tehran and Managua. “In 1982, she moved to La Jolla, a seaside community in San Diego,” states the biography on her website. “She met people who introduced her to the worlds of Henry Miller, Simone de Beauvoir, Colette and other writers. And it is in these worlds that she found relief from the stress and uncertainty that emanated from her Belfast research.” “Her fascination with the notorious erotic writer Henry Miller helped propel her to a new life in Paris,” writes Simon Shaw in a review of the book for The Mail on Sunday.

Miller is not someone Duncan knew personally, but existed instead as an inspiration. “Like Henry,” she writes, “I believed in living life as an individual, taking my knocks and having a hell of a time doing it.” Three years ago, she acquired an archive of Miller letters, photographs and audio tapes. This archive is apparently described in Henry Miller is Under my Bed, and has been traveling with her of late, as she makes a promotional tour (currently in the U.S.) in support of her book. Pan-Paris.org states that this collection comes from “Henry Miller's memoirs, My Life and Times, and Insomnia."
Duncan had once had a “surreptitious affair with ’60s guru Max Lerner, much of it at the Playboy Mansion West” (ref. on publisher website), where Lerner had long taken up residency. My Life and Times was published by Playboy Press, so I'm taking a wild guess here that Duncan possibly used some of her old Playboy connections to help acquire her Miller archive (the acquisition process is described here as a "journey"). The cover photograph she uses for her book appears in that Playboy-published autobiography.
During her promotional tour, Duncan has used this archive as a springboard to discuss Miller’s inspirations for writing, and the techniques he employed for Tropic Of Cancer and other books (she had taken this approach at an appearance at Shakespeare & Company in Paris). She plans to eventually publish and/or exhibit this material [ref.].
From 1996 to 2005, Mary Duncan owned a Shakespeare & Company store in Moscow, and likely has many other literary tales to tell on her book tour in support of Henry Miller is Under My Bed, which is on-going. Next week, on Saturday, April 5th, 2008, she will be appearing at the Henry Miller Memorial Library.
Both photos of Mary Duncan (including the one in the banner art) are from Duncan's own website.
(Note: I have not read this book, and have composed this entry based on information from internet sources).