A delightful hymn to a life of abandon in a never-never land of effortlessly fulfilled desire.
John Glassco (1909-1981), born in Montreal, attended McGill University without graduating, visited Paris as a sixteen-year-old and two years later, in 1928, accompanied by his friend Graeme Taylor. It was on this more lengthy and eventful stay, in the city he loved, that he based his Memoirs of Montparnasse (1970), which was published, and presented by Glassco, as an authentic memoir though it was later discovered to be in many respects a work of fiction. Before publication he had confided to his friend Kay Boyle: "It has the form of fiction-i.e. with lots of dialogue, speed, rearranged and telescoped action; never a dull moment-and is more a montage of those days than literal truth." It is, however, firmly based in reality and felt experience, and probably contains as much fact as fiction. Glassco once remarked that he was "as much a novelist, anthologist, translator and pornographer" as he was a poet or a memoirist. His Selected Poems (1971) won a Governor General's Award, then Canada's leading literary honor. Louis Begley is a novelist and retired lawyer. He has written eight novels, including Wartime Lies, About Schmidt. and Matters of Honor, which was published in 2007. He is a Chevalier de l'Ordre des Arts et Lettres of France and served as the president of American pen from 1993 to 1995. He lives in New York with his wife, Anka Muhlstein, an historian of France.
"It's wonderful to see John Glassco's charming Memoirs of Montparnasse getting the international recognition it deserves. Like its author -- whom I knew quite well in the 1960s -- the book is a loveable and eccentric rogue, fond of style and up to mischief. It never fails to entertain." -- Margaret Atwood
"Memoirs of Montparnasse is one of the most joyous books on youth -- the thrill and the gall and the adventure of it. It is also one of the best books on being in literary Paris in the 1920s." --Michael Ondaatje "[Memoirs of Montparnasse] should be read and at last recognized as the most dramatic of the many narratives dealing with Paris in the 1920's." --The New York Times "The title calls to mind a whole genre of books...But Glassco's book, published from a manuscript nearly forty years old, is fresher and truer to the moment than the others, as well as being more novelistic and, in a sense, legendary."--The New Republic "A very good book, perhaps a great book." --The Washington Star "The best book of prose by a Canadian that I've ever read." --Montreal Gazette "This is a delightful, on-the-spot report of the days when it was still possible to be very young, very hip and very happy all at the same time...this precious, witty document from a long-vanished younger generation has both the freshness and remoteness of some ornate space ship found intact in a forgotten tomb." --The New York Times