isbn 9780993289241 Colley Books, 2015
Beneath Napoleon's Hat: Tales from the Parisian Cafes: Volume 1.
First in a series of stories or plaquettes of indeterminate length; some too long to be short stories and some too short to be novels, but all set in Parisian cafés in the past famous for their writers and literary connections.
In this volume Robert McAlmon, Bryher and H.D. are determinedly en route to Paris. Soon enough McAlmon will inhabit Le Dôme and Bricktop’s, Montmartre and Montparnasse, but first he must honour the conditions of his false marriage to Bryher and accommodate Hilda Doolittle (H.D.) his wife’s lover.
The Hotel de la Tour Eiffel in London served the purpose of a café. It was artistic enough to house Wyndham Lewis and his Vorticists and equally acceptable as an escape for McAlmon from the oppressive and controlled world of Audley Street and its master, the improbably wealthy Sir John Ellerman, his new father-in-law.
The complex psychology of Bryher, the ambivalent sexuality of H.D. and the hedonistic, self-destructive qualities of McAlmon make up the entangled relational triangle at the centre of these stories.
McAlmon will meet his hero James Joyce, the less heroic Ernest Hemingway, Djuna Barnes and so on — a who’s who of American expatriates passing through Paris. If this ‘Bunch’ are a part of a ‘Lost Generation’ as Gertrude Stein declared (she was there as well) then it is McAlmon who leads them astray. 105pp