Mary M. Tahan
literary agent
Clausen, Mays & Tahan literary agency

In the past two and a half years, there was rarely a day that went by that I didn’t speak on the phone with Quentin.

"Oh, yeesssss?" I’d hear Quentin say as he picked up the receiver. (Quentin never answered the phone with "hello," but instead, slowly drew out the word "yes" and hung it in the air like a question.) Then I would proceed to the business at hand: Are you prepared for your photo shoot today? The photographer insists you wear your "signature" fedora and the purple scarf you wore the last time. ("Oh dear. I haven’t had that scarf in years.") Have you penciled in the date for an upcoming interview with so-and-so? ("I’ll look in the ‘Sacred Book’" was Quentin’s stock reply, as he rifled through his appointment book.) Sometimes there were scheduling conflicts, because Quentin would agree to do almost anything with anybody at any time, but then fail to tell our agency. ("Quentin," I would plead, "you’ve got to tell me where you’re going, with whom, and when!" I felt like a mother scolding her naughty schoolboy though the man was twice my age.)

Keeping track of Quentin’s literary output and comings and goings was a daunting task: interviews; movie reviews; one-man shows; photo and television shoots; contracts for books. . . . He was a star, and I still can’t believe that I actually knew this man. What great fortune to have known one of the largest literary talents of the 20th century. I will not soon forget him.

Copyright © 2000 by Mary M. Tahan and Estate of Quentin Crisp. All rights reserved.
Photograph copyright © by Jean Harvey. All rights reserves. Used by permission.

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