With her sometimes loving and sometimes raw prose, Barbara Kraft captures the humanity and essence of one of the twentieth century’s most celebrated literary figures, as she reads from her memoir Anais Nin: The Last Days.
“I have chosen to reveal the intimacies of Anaïs Nin’s last days as I witnessed them so that the story of her death is not lost. Everything comes back in the mind’s eye. Everything comes back in the crucible of the heart. She remains in my psyche all these years later as the most refined and rarified human being I have ever encountered.”
Thus begins Barbara Kraft’s memoir, Anaïs Nin: The Last Days. With her sometimes loving and sometimes raw prose, Kraft has captured the humanity, mortality, and essence of one of the twentieth century’s most celebrated and yet mysterious literary figures.
Anaïs Nin, noted for her diaries and erotica, was at the height of her fame when she took on Barbara Kraft as a writing student. Quickly, the two became intimate friends at the moment when both would encounter tragedy: Nin’s terminal cancer and Kraft’s impending difficult divorce. The circumstances created an environment of interdependency: Nin, despite her failing health, supported Kraft’s writing and life decisions, and Kraft became a devoted and untiring part of Nin’s support system during her last two years of life.
As Noel Riley Fitch, author of Anaïs:The Erotic Life of Anaïs Nin, writes of Kraft’s book: “An intimate and beautiful portrayal of the final years and painful death of Anaïs Nin … This compelling memoir is honest, critical, and full of perceptive insights into the relationships between Nin and her men.”Of all the young women I’ve worked with you are the one most like me,” Nin told Kraft as she lay dying.”
Kraft describes her initial meeting with Nin in February 1974, writing that Nin was poetry embodied and seemed to ‘glide’ over the rose-colored carpet of her Silver Lake home ‘like a swan skimming the surface of still waters.’ And in December of that year she begins what was to become a chronicle of Nin’s terrible two-year battle with cancer.
Because of the overwhelming reality of cancer, Anaïs Nin was stripped down to her bare essence, which Kraft captures expertly. She poignantly records not only Nin’s stubborn grip on life, but also the heroic efforts that Rupert Pole, Nin’s West Coast lover, made to shield her from the inevitable pain, agony, and humiliation associated with the disease. It is a monumental tribute to not only those fighting for their lives, but also the forgotten ones—the caregivers.
The very personal events in this book will resonate with anyone who has gone through terminal disease or knows someone who has. So, like Nin herself, the raw reality of Anaïs Nin: The Last Days becomes symbolic, mythical, and universally inspirational.
Anaïs Nin: The Last Days is currently available on Amazon, on Smashwords and Google Books. It is also available directly from iPad (through the iTunes store), Nook, the Sony Reader, as well as other Kindle-friendly devises such as the iPhone and is available through nearly every credible device worldwide.