THOUGH as yet a great way off, some of the malice and resentments born of broken friendships in Paris began to reach me. Robert McAlmon, Hemingway’s first publisher, wrote to me about The Sun Also Rises, which had come out and made Hemingway fashionable and famous, that he would feel more confident of Hemingway’s talent if he hadn’t turned to the rich pastures of Michel Arlen. Wasn’t Lady Brett right out of the same bag as Arlen’s Iris March in The Green Hat? In other letters he would tell me of annoying aspects of Hemingway’s personality; he would concentrate usually on something he had seen going on between Hemingway and his wife. And as for Hemingway himself, why was he always hardening himself up? The answer was obvious. Anyone close to him knew he was really soft and sentimental. It was amusing to remember the Hemingway who had first come to Montparnasse. Ask anybody. Why had he been wearing those three heavy sweaters to make himself look husky and powerful? What a ridiculous giveaway.
I used to read these letters and brood over them at night by myself in a little lending library I had opened. My young newspaper friend, Art Kent, had conned me into opening this ’ library with him on the theory that we could have a woman run it, and get a little weekly income for ourselves. When Art couldn’t raise his share of the money I stupidly and stubbornly kept on with the library, which was costing me money, using the place as a night headquarters and writing my stories there while waiting for Loretto to join me. Well, these letters I read so carefully told me that McAlmon, who had helped Hemingway, had turned against him. Now he could hardly hide his malice. What went on among old friends in Paris? I used to wonder. Anderson and Hemingway. Hemingway, too, had turned against Ford. Why was McAlmon now making sure that I had his own mocking view of my friend? How could he assume that I was soon to meet Hemingway again? How could he be so sure? It was mysterious. Then I would say to myself, “Supposing Hemingway was only interested in my work? Supposing he doesn’t think of himself as my friend?” Such thoughts were foolish. As it was I saw no immediate prospect of walking in on him.
But people with Paris connections began to walk in on me. One day a shy, prematurely balding man with a bad stutter, named Raymond Knister, came into the bookstore. A countryman of mine who had actually written in This Quarter ! He told me he had worked in Chicago on a little magazine called The Midland. Unbelievably, he knew what was going on in literature in Paris, London and New York. Immediately I wrote to Hemingway, calling attention to Knister’s farm poetry in This Quarter. And immediately Hemingway answered but didn’t mention the poetry. This Raymond Knister was a strange man. Sometimes I wanted to punch him on the nose. He had a kind of suspiciousness I couldn’t cope with. Having told me that he had never been paid any money for his poems in This Quarter, he then decided that the editor could have sent the small cheque to me to pass on to him. I would snarl bitterly, “For God’s sake, why don’t you write to them and ask them about it?” But he would only smile knowingly. It was a fantastic summer anyway. As I say, everyone and everything began to come my way. In the beginning Nathan Asch came up from New York to see me, stayed a month, and in the evenings in the library we used to play a game of handball, a point being scored every time the ball bounced directly against the edge of a shelf. And when Nathan had gone I heard from Ezra Pound, who was in Rapallo, Italy. Two stories of mine, “A Predicament” and “Ancient Lineage” were to appear in the one issue of his Exile. While I was walking around in a trance, rejoicing that Ezra Pound admired my work, I heard that Max Perkins at Scribner’s, having read a story of mine called “Amuck in the Bush” in the American Caravan, and having then asked to see more stories, had also got hold of the one Ezra Pound had (“A Predicament”) and wanted another one. I quickly sent it to him. Then Perkins asked if I could get Pound to release “The Predicament” to them. I cabled Pound. Wondering how everything had happened so swiftly, wondering, too, if Hemingway had spoken to Perkins, I set out for New York to see Perkins.
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