A life well worth remembering is finely displayed in this oral autobiography of Walter—writer, poet, set designer, songscribe, editor, actor, etc.—as told to Clark (Motherwit, not reviewed).
Most of all, though, Walter (who died in 1998) was a boulevardier, a man about town, a man who others sought out for the sheer pleasure of his company, learned and mischievous, capricious and shrewd, a man whose wayward life was guarded by the fates and utterly serendipitous. He tells of growing up in sensuous, prodigal Mobile, Alabama, where “the porch was a concept as well as a place, and people used them,” and we follow his trajectory first to New York (where he lived in Greenwich Village, cavorted with Dylan Thomas, Martha Graham, and Maureen Stapleton, and worked in the theater), and then to Paris (“Let’s see what’s over there. Let’s just have a look”), where he got serious about writing, contributing to the early Paris Review after looking up Plimpton, Matthiessen, and Donald Hall, and winning awards for his short work, novels, and poetry. Then came Rome—Walter relates all this with incredible gusto, a strong and steady comic touch, and, one imagines, much elegant embroidery—where he edited the widely respected literary journal Botteghe Oscure, wrote music for Fellini’s Juliet of the Spirits (and acted in 8 1/2), and took roles in dozens of spaghetti westerns. Like the best of tricksters, he has taken an oath of awareness—he is incredibly sharp—and he is lovable as well as fascinating: His was a wonderful life that couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy.
A fitting memoir, told with dash and brio, from a unique and fascinating character.