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Entertaining portrayal of the Parisian careers of four Americans during the 20's and early 30's: composer George Antheil, critic Harold Stearns, novelist Kay Boyle and avant-garde editor Margaret Anderson. These lives, each of which ""represents a different and characteristic aspect of expatriation, a distinct perspective,"" are presented as an antidote to the Hemingway/Fitzgerald lost-generation legend. George Antheil's monomania for mechanistic music sprang from the industrial surroundings of his Trenton, New Jersey, home. From it his genius fashioned pieces such as ""Mechanisms interrhythmic, cubistic, eliptocentric, and planetary, psycholliptic, susurrorhymid."" In Paris, he weasled in on Stravinksy's admiring friendship, lost it, and remained pretty much in poverty until getting a job writing movie scores in Hollywood. Ford brings Antheil's ardor to life, as he does Harold Stearns' quite different passion for idleness. An intellectual whiz upon leaving the States, with influential published works behind him. Stearns fell into decay in Paris and became the outstandingly lost member of the lost generation. Ford is most moving about Kay Boyle's doomed love affair with young, fatally tubercular, wildly wonderful poet Ernest Walsh. She had left her husband for him, and for her he had left his mistress (who was supporting his little magazine This Quarter). As his illness deepened, his wealthy ex-mistress returned to care both for Walsh and Boyle, who was carrying his child. He died writing joyous poems to Boyle while playing both women against each other. Margaret Anderson, a lesbian, founded The Little Review with her lover Jane Heap, a fantastic creature marvelously drawn by Ford. Margaret loved Jane for her power of original argument; Jane never quoted anybody for her argument--""she said nothing that she had not thought herself,"" which made her eccentrically straightforward. Between them they published over half of Joyce's Ulysses. Effortless writing that draws you in like a warm bath.

Pub Date: Dec. 15th, 1986
Publisher: North Point