by carl wilson

Hungry Like a Fox

Paula_Fox.gif linda.jpg courtney.jpgfrances-courtney.jpg
Rockin' around the family tree: Clockwise from top, Paula Fox in her youth, Linda Carroll today, Courtney Love and Frances Bean Cobain, Courtney Love.

My reaction exactly. I was surprised every time I read a review of Courtney Love's mother Linda Carroll's new book that they would mention the revelation that Carroll's own birth mother was the amazing author Paula Fox only in passing. Now, this is a little genetic-determinist of me, but let's indulge for a second: Anyone who's read Fox's memoir of her childhood, Borrowed Finery (and U shd cuz it Roxx), will know that Fox herself was abandoned by her father Paul (a bad screenwriter) and mother Elsie (a society girl), who were glamorous but ne'er-do-well party people with chi-chi connections in Hollywood - and young Paula was shunted around to a series of relatives. But then when she had a child herself she (kind of understandably) resisted becoming a mother and gave Linda Carroll up for adoption. (She later had two sons.) And then you've got Carroll's own fractious relationship with her daughter, and very dubious-man selection, and then you've got Courtney - it's quite a chain of dysfunctional mothering down the line, among women who in other ways cut an impressive figure. In that light you have to say that for all her mistakes, Courtney's stood by her daughter and they haven't had any visible antagonism in their relationship (there must be a fair amount of cement from coping with Kurt's death in that bond). (Although, also, Frances is in the first rich and famous generation, so she probably has had good nannies and so forth.) None of which means much I admit, but it's impossible not to feel a suggestive tingle from the epic Electra chain here. The whole story is laid out nonmelodramatically in this excellent Guardian feature, which notes that Fox, now in her 80s, and her rocker granddaughter do not "get on."

If this inspires anybody to look into Paula Fox: You might have read some of her children's books (irony alert) when you were a kid, such as the controversial The Slave Dancer, but the one to devour is Desperate Characters, a mesmerizing depiction of middle-class political and domestic neurosis in the sixties, but really social anxiety in any context. Get those graduate theses on the relationship between Fox's novels and Courtney's albums (or just your thinly fictionalized novel/verse-play/dance-theatre-film adaptations of the whole family saga) a-churnin'.

Also, the fact that Frances Bean Cobain is 13 just takes the top of my head off. I don't get what she's doing giving interviews, but I'm irrationally glad that she seems happy.

| Posted by zoilus on Friday, February 03 at 2:35 PM | Linking Posts | Comments (7)

 

COMMENTS

I'm with stuber. Definitely Meg Ryan.

Posted by Gord Fynes on February 5, 2006 8:51 AM

 

 

You're all wrong. It's Liz Phair -- like here:
http://www.moonwashedrose.com/media/francesid7.html
Scary!

Posted by Katie C. on February 5, 2006 3:08 AM

 

 

more like a young jennifer anniston if you ask me...

Posted by andrew on February 5, 2006 2:39 AM

 

 

Who knew that Kurt and Courtney would give birth to Meg Ryan?

Posted by stuber on February 4, 2006 10:21 PM

 

 

Thirteen-year-olds are 13 years old, of course -- I think at that age I was listening to Culture Club and Whitney Houston -- but still I catch myself being a little surprised that Kurt and Courtney's daughter is bigging up Mariah Carey and American Idol.

It's kind of refreshing that Frances seems to be a much more normal kid that you'd have thought she'd turn out to be, all publicly available information considered.

Posted by Ed on February 4, 2006 6:06 PM

 

 

You'd think with her unstable upbringing and volatile genes that Frances would be a mess. Happy that's not the case. What an amazing kid!

Posted by Sofi on February 4, 2006 2:25 PM

 

 

Also, "The Widow's Children" is an especially fantastic Paula Fox book and ties in really well with this Carroll-Love-Fox motif of malignant narcissism and disastrous parenting. The Carroll book, incidentally, is pretty not great but the new Fox book is aces. I first found out about the Love-Fox connection in an iD interview between Courtney and jt leroy(!) and I was really disappointed for some reason.

Posted by benstimpson on February 4, 2006 11:03 AM

 

 

 

Zoilus by Carl Wilson