Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 484
Callaghan began That Summer in Paris: Memories of Tangled Friendships with Hemingway, Fitzgerald, and Some Others to correct the many stories generated by his outboxing Hemingway in Paris. The book, however, grew into a charming compilation of memories of Paris boulevards, commentary, and conversations with American writers, editors, and publishers. The book falls into thirds, followed by a coda. In the first third, Callaghan details his newspaper work in Toronto, meeting Hemingway there, and conferring with members of the literati in New York. Callaghan presents himself as an eager young author, ready for advice but also rather cocksure.
The Callaghans arrive in Paris in April. Callaghan, recalling numerous experiences with remarkable objectivity, offers vignettes of Parisian life before the economic collapse and war that were to come. He reveres Paris as “a lighted place where the imagination was free,” that people “have to make room for . . . in their thoughts even if they never visit them.” Distancing himself from the French writers he observes, he calls one trio “French cutups” and André Gide “a second-rate novelist.” Some Americans fare no better. Gertrude Stein’s abstract prose is “nonsense.” A host spoils his generous treatment of Americans with gossip and cruel behavior. Through this host, however, Callaghan meets James Joyce, whom he esteems above all other living writers, whose wife he meets and likes, and in whose home he is entertained. Callaghan also reveres Hemingway and hopes to meet F. Scott Fitzgerald through him. Callaghan does meet “Scott” later.
Callaghan summarizes more adventures with celebrities and phonies, describes far too much drinking, and carefully reports his boxing match with Hemingway. Fitzgerald, who timed the match, in innocent excitement let a three-minute round run on, which allowed Callaghan to floor Hemingway, who bellowed that Fitzgerald had done it purposely to see him humiliated. Callaghan concludes that...
(The entire section contains 484 words.)
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