Being Geniuses Together, 1920 1930, by Robert McAlmon, Kay Boyle

pattydsf's review

Go to review page


I have racked my brain trying to remember what made me pick up this book. It may have been because I was considering taking ModPo this fall. (See for more info about this fascinating course.) It might have been because Kay Boyle keeps coming up in my reading. Whatever it was, I am pleased I picked this memoir up.

I had not heard of Robert McAlmon before. Although I was an English major in college, I didn’t take any courses that covered the American expatriates in any depth. Of course we read Fitzgerald and Hemingway, but I didn’t encounter Gertrude Stein, Djuna Barnes or Mina Loy. Most of the Americans who ended up in Paris were apparently too minor to worry about.

Although much of this book was over my head because I didn’t know the people that Boyle and McAlmon were discussing, it was a fascinating read. It is hard to reproduce any historical period for contemporary readers, but that was not necessary. Both these authors were there for the events they were writing about. I liked the immediacy and was grateful for the glimpse into the past.

I was unable to complete the coursework for Modern and Contemporary American Poetry. I hope to finish it eventually. When I do, I may revisit this book so that I can see if I understand the people in this memoir better. They were not all poets, but that era had a stamp on all of present day American literature.

I recommend this memoir to readers who are interested in learning about literature, to those who like meeting new people and to anyone who has an interest in the history of the period between the two World Wars.