Sunday, September 08, 2013

Saloon Gong

Sitting in Square Books today, waiting to meet someone, I was staring at the LITERARY NON-FICTION section, which is just across from where you sit and drink a Coke and think about where it all went wrong. And I saw staring back at me a book about Oscar Wilde's travels through the United States. I've always wanted to know more about the time he spent in Mobile, which is near where I grew up. So I picked up the book and thumbed through it while I was waiting - WHICH MAKES ME NO BETTER THAN A COMMON THIEF. (See also.) I didn't learn anything new about Oscar Wilde in Mobile (except that an "enterprising" kid sold sunflowers before Wilde's outdoor reading, and Wilde was like, "Way to go, kid!" except significantly wittier) but I did find out that Oscar Wilde visited Jefferson Davis at his home in Biloxi, so that's weird. And I found out there was a professional Oscar Wilde impersonator in Atlanta at the time! He billed himself as "Wild Oscar" (!) and recited an Oscar Wilde-style version of the history of Atlanta (!) before ending things with a "sunflower dance." I also learned that Wilde's reading in Houston was "continually interrupted by the ringing of a large gong in the saloon downstairs." And that is the majority of the information I stole for you today.