The act of reading ... begins on a flat surface, counter or page, and then gets stirred and chopped and blended until what we make, in the end, is a dish, or story, all our own.
— Adam Gopnik

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October 25, 2019

'It was pleasant being a lion...'

      [The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas] was chosen as a main selection by the Literary Guild and was serialized in ... the Atlantic Monthly, the only book to be so honored by that august publication. Readers waited at newsstands for the next issue of the magazine to arrive the way an earlier generation of Americans had waited at seaports for the next installment of Charles Dickens' The Old Curiosity Shop. (Little Alice, unlike Little Nell, remained stubbornly alive.) The unexpected success of the book ... would place the real author's name before the American public in a way that three decades' worth of novels, stories, essays, poems and plays had not. ...
      Eventually, the public clamor proved impossible to resist, and Gertrude agreed to undertake a lengthy speaking tour of America, commencing in October 1934. Alice of course, would come along, ... The trip would be great fun, not merely for Gertrude and Alice, but for thousands of literally depressed Americans who would find some much-need diversion in the unpredictable antics of a pair of eccentric, accessible, uninhibited women who were apt at any given time to say or do anything. ...
      The runaway success of the Autobiography took both Gertrude and Alice by surprise. Before the book came out, Gertrude asked her partner if she thought it would be a best seller. Not sentimental enough, said the distinctly unsentimental Alice, who soon would have cause to revise her prediction.Proof of the book's popularity came regularly in cities and towns across the country, where the visiting couple was greeted like everyone's favorite maiden aunts. They fully returned the compliment, rediscovering along the way their own American identities after thirty years abroad. 'I never knew it was so beautiful,' Gertrude said of their homeland. 'I was like a bachelor who goes along fine for twenty-five years and then decides to get married. ...'

from Gertrude Stein Has Arrived:  the homecoming of a literary legend
by Roy Morris Jr. 

An unexpected find at the library, started on the bus this morning. This is going to be so much fun.


JoAnn said...

What a great find. Enjoy!

Mae Travels said...

Appealing book! I've always loved Gertrude and Alice, as did their fans.

best... mae at

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