This manuscript feels like a throwback, a retreat into fantasy life after the far more complex work of the Amy manuscripts or the character writings from the immediately preceding years. The date on the first page of the manuscript is September 6, 1969; I am getting ready to go to the University of Rochester to begin my freshman year. I am seventeen, and have graduated from high school. I have spent some of the summer as a camp counselor, suffering agonies of inadequacy and shyness among the beautiful young girls with whom I work. I am half in love with many of them, one a tall colt with shiny brown eyes and long dark hair, who I made into the star of the summer ballet performance I choreographed to Beethoven's ninth symphony.
Now I am back in Philadelphia, trying to face a reality too confusing and painful to imagine, which is that I am about to leave for college, leave my mother, whom I love, my home, to which I am attached, and be sent into a strange world where Amy is further away than ever in her second year at Clark University, but estranged from me by boyfriends and new friends who are girls but not girlfriends. I know I should be writing a reality, and not a fantasy, and I do that too—in the journals, the accounts, the endless starts and stops of trying to write about Amy—image of comfort against the sadness that I endure.
This is an anomalous work, a manuscript written in the final days in Philadelphia. The imagery, the language, and all of the fantasy tone were out of keeping with the Amy writings and the journals. Why, how, I imagined such a text had any relevance or substance I cannot imagine now. But at the time, the idea of writing this story with drawings made by dip pen in purple ink, and watercolors, seemed the height of a distilled and distinctive perfection. I wrote it imagining that it might be something, not say something, that it might compress and distill a symbolic form that would be self-contained and free-floating, an isotope of unpolluted expression.
Writing simply to make a formal work was neither unfamiliar nor outside of past or future activity. But the fantasy aspect of this piece was what made it distinctive. The original idea of the purple flying unicorn was linked to one of our characters, I believe, and in some ways this work is elegiac, a final articulation of a world that is not going to continue, but be abandoned, enclosed. The appearance of the fantastic animal is brief, and the fate of the connection between the main character, Minnie, and the “malouse” as the creature was named, was ill-fated and brief.
The Minnie character, depicted in a romper-like one-piece outfit with bloomers, a puffed-sleeve shirt, and a black top hat, anticipated character who would appear in the writings of the next few years: the pupa. The androgynous, childish, character was an apt persona at the time, though Minnie has none of the perversity that the pupa had, and, instead, is an attempt to hold onto an innocence that was already long lost.
The manuscript was a throwback to a state of mind and condition in which complete
avoidance of adult life and challenges, of school, reality, departure to college, separation from my mother and the family home,
and the always present disconnection from and loss of Amy could all be ignored. The bubble world of the story is completely vacuous,
empty as such a fantasy has to be. No imaginary fluff could keep the world at bay, and the flimsy paper on which the drawings floated,
was as insubstantial as the whole project, embodying its inability to hold its own, or maintain any stability in the face of the very
real and impending realities from which it was meant to be an escape.