What to call these essays?
They are hommages, in the French usage: recognitions of women who have provided defining experiences of my life, positive experiences, moments for which I want to acknowledge gratitude and a debt. I have written elsewhere about women I have loved, and why or how I loved them, women who shared a life, a house, a bed with me. I've written elsewhere about women I admire and respect for their craft as writers. A few years ago, I put together a piece on Marilyn Monroe that might be called the inspiration for these essays, a homage and a meditation on a woman whose role in my life has been oblique and crucial.
Some of the women in this series I never really met, some almost certainly have forgotten me. A few of them are women whom, as I look back on the decisions I've made, I understand that I failed to appreciate; some represent potentials I never realized, opportunities I failed to grasp, relationships I failed to explore. Some, though, are women whose role in my life was brief, whole, and complete. Each of those played a defining role in my growth as a man among women.
I've divided them, somewhat arbitarily, into four categories. First Loves is self-explanatory, I hope. Novae are women who flamed into my view briefly with sudden, blinding clarity that left me with new vision. In the Abstract discusses women with public faces who became meaningful for me through those public personae. And Tiny Dancers describes the small, seemingly trivial encounters, like vignettes, that have remained with me for their fragrance, tang, or color, meaningless as a remembered flower blooming in a barren place or a chance conjunction of two stars that renders the sky, for a moment, unforgettable. Unforgettable, pivotal, these rare and precious stones I keep in my most hoarded trove of memory, stars who make the constellation of my heart, women I owe this gratitude, this tribute, my love.