Friday, 11 March 2011

Seth Morgan

Silver threads and golden needles cannot mend this heart of mine
And I'll never drown my sorrow in the warm glow of your wine.
You can't buy my love with money, for I never was that kind,
Silver threads and golden needles cannot mend this heart of mine

A verse from Janis Joplin, doubly relevant as Seth Morgan was Joplin's lover and fiancé and because he was a user of drugs through to his death.

Seth Morgan was born into a rich family (heirs to the Ivory Soap fortune) with a father who had literary interests. Seth himself evinced little in that line, went to Berkeley, dropped out and entered the subcultures that inform his one novel, Homeboy. A wild life with Janis Joplin ended with her death in 1970; Morgan went on to act as barker in a strip club, drug user and armed robber. None too succesful as a criminal he left a trail of warrants and ended up serving thirty months in a federal penitentiary.

After release he spent a quiet decade or so, writing, pottering around New Orleans, generally belying the turmoil of his previous life. Eventually he published Homeboy to enormous acclaim. Alas, invited to a book signing in San Francisco he confessed that he was afraid of arrest on an outstanding warrant - years before he had stabbed a bystander during a robbery. This time he got away with it. The strain, however, was beginning to tell. On October 16th 1990 he was arrested for DUI. On the 17th he and girlfriend Suzy Levine loaded up on booze and coke, climbed onto his motorcycle and wiped themselves out on a concrete embankment.

A word of warning if you're going on to read my review of Homeboy: it's rude, crude, violent, foul and one of the best novels of its kind I've ever read.


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