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Being Geniuses Together 1920-1930 (Revised with supplementary chapters and an afterword by Kay Boyle) Paperback – April 1, 1984


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 362 pages
  • Publisher: North Point Press; Revised & enlarged edition (April 1984)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0865471495
  • ISBN-13: 978-0865471498
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.3 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,253,431 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"This collaboration -- posthumous in McAlmon's case -- has proved amazingly successful. It gives us pictures of two lives -- and many surrounding lives -- from different angles, as if they had been taken with a stereoscopic camera. Thereby it gives us an impression of depth and substantiality that have been lacking in other memoirs of Paris in the 1920's." -- Malcolm Cowley, New York Times Book Review

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Book Description

A beautiful evocation of 1920s Paris in a sad, funny, informative, and nostalgic memoir.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Daniel Myers VINE VOICE on April 26, 2003
Format: Paperback
This is a strangely, piercingly affecting book ostensibly by and about two largely forgotten writers among the "Lost Generation" of writers and artists in Paris in the 1920's. It is an emotionally engrossing tale, especially on Boyle's part, of what physical and emotional/spiritual sacrifices the life of the committed artist demands.-----Yes, there is plenty of name-dropping and stories concerning Pound, Joyce and Hemingway-But that hardly seems the point and neither does their art (except for Boyle, at times). This book is about what sort of People they were, how they lived their lives, both internally and externally.
The stereotype of the artist as a self-destructive martyr to his or her art is certainly on display here, but the characters aren't represented as hollow stereotypes (which themselves exist, after all, for very good reasons). They leap from the page as living, breathing people, and one gains an insight into the modus vivendi of each of them. And it must be said that, of the writers from that milieu that are still remembered today (mentioned above), only Joyce comes through as a lovable figure, and a good man, despite his drinking bouts.
The major achievement of this book is that it brings home the humanity of both Boyle and McAlmon as they lived their externally festive (especially McAlmon's), inwardly tormented (especially Boyle's) lives. There are several other aspects on which one could dwell, Mcalmon's generosity and relative selflessness (as written of by Boyle, not he), Boyle's supposedly more "Romantic" way of life and art (as written of by McAlmon, not she), but the main effect is that of laying out a physical and psychological tableau of their lives in the 1920's.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Paul Gardner on October 22, 2010
Format: Paperback
The erudite editor, wit, flaneur extraordinaire and exuberant
writer Robert McAlmon published his memoir of Paris, '20s,
in 1938. It's an outstanding revisit to the most colorful
chapter in Americana abroad and it tugs the heart of anyone
who has lived and loved in Paris, even if the love was the
city itself. A handsome, generous American who funded other
writers, McAlmon married a British heiress who needed 'the
ring' to flee her family. She had no sexual interest in men;
he had no lust for women. Theirs was a discreet 'modern'
marriage and it paid his bills - he used the money to
enhance the reputations of Gert Stein & James Joyce. (He's
a key player in John Glassco's 'Memoirs of Montparnasse').

The independent & flamboyant Kay Boyle, a personal pal
from Paris, expands McAlmon's story in her own striking
manner. The civilized novelist Boyle, oft married, always seductive,
reveals two worlds: McAlmon's and hers. You can't ask for anything
more. Their edgy lives, which involve the usual '20s suspects, as
well as Caresse & Harry Crosby, Hart Crane & William Carlos
Williams, intersect dramatically and comically. You have to
sip between the guarded lines and lives, but here's a wistful
nightcap to a culturally aware decade.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Written (in alternating chapters) by two heroic and largely unsung American expatriates who lived in Paris in the 1920s, "Being Geniuses Together" deserves to be more widely known. But, it's a challenging book. If you want to get a quick, inspiring taste of Paris in the 1920s, first read John Glassco's "Memoirs of Montparnasse," (actually published in 1970) where you'll meet both Robert McAlmon and Kay Boyle (who appears in that novel as two characters, both under her own name and also as Diana Tree). Once you've allowed John Glassco to show you the sights of Paris, you'll be ready to appreciate (and tolerate) this fascinating but diffuse book by McAlmon and Boyle.

Published in 1938, the initial layer of chapters in "Being Geniuses Together" was written by Robert McAlmon, who engaged in a marriage of convenience with lesbian heiress Winifred Bryhrer. McAlmon used his "inheritance" from Bryher's tremendously rich parents to fund Contact Press, which published Djuna Barnes, Ford Maddox Ford, Ezra Pound, Ernest Hemingway, Gertrude Stein, William Carlos Williams and others. As a reward for publishing his first book, ungrateful Hemingway, who was not above living off the inherited money of his first two wives, called him "McAlimony." Then in 1966, Kay Boyle, a hard working writer, political activist and dedicated Romantic, who knew McAlmon and associated with many important figures in 1920s Paris contributed another layer of chapters, which alternate with McAlmon's. Without Kay Boyle's contributions, McAlmon's memoirs might be unknown.
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11 of 19 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 31, 2000
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
If you have read extensively about the Lost Generation and their Paris, then the McAlmon chapters will further illuminate what others have said. If you are fairly new to the subject, this book will bore you to tears with its laundry lists of who/what/where/exactly when and at what time so-and-so got drunk. I do not think Kay Boyle's chapters do anything but prove how odious she was.
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