Greenwich Village the way it was -- when the pizza parlors were still bookshops and any doorway might harbor Joe Gould -- and Paris the way it's best remembered -- all scandales and salons, with Picasso, lordly Ford and Pound rampant. Norman's backward view compasses these and other worlds: AP newsrooms and the Black Mountain faculty (where he claims to have coined Olsen's ""Breath"" doctrine), the uptown gallery where his maiden paintings won a one-man show, the age of Elizabeth I (for his lives of Marlowe and Shakespeare), and the second World War about which he says little except that it returned him to poetry, his real universe. Colum, Cummings, Gorky, Wolfe, Wilder, Millay, etc. are among the grand supporting cast, along with Pollock, Maxwell Bodenheim, and Allen Scott who were less than supportive. There is a bit of the picayune -- who could identify what quotation; whose son later married whose niece -- but for the most part this flows. And Norman, who must be getting on, has a knack for making himself plausible at any remembered age. Especially young, when he must have been as attractive as this slyly intimates.