Print of the Hôtel Cluny, Paris
For many writers, certain places in certain times hold literary magic — San Francisco in the 1950s, Canada in the 1960s, New York in almost any period. In my writerly heart, Paris of the 1920s occupies a very special place. For a good chunk of my life as a novelist, I’ve been fascinated by the expats who formed what Gertrude Stein called the “lost generation” in postwar Paris. Hemingway, in particular, seized my interest many years ago and still has not let go. As a charter member of the “why use six words when 12 will do” school of prose, I’m not a big fan of Hemingway’s spare writing, but I’m endlessly curious about his life, especially his years as a young, poor, struggling writer in Paris. Toronto, where I live, looks much different today than it did in the 1920s. But Paris still appears nearly the same as a century ago when Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Morley Callaghan, James Joyce, Ezra Pound and the rest of their crew wrote and drank in the cafés of the Left Bank. My wife and I visit Paris whenever we can, always staying in the Latin Quar- ter alongside the ghosts of these literary legends. I often write in their favourite cafés seeking inspiration at least, and spectral visitation at best. I’ve found the former but, regrettably, never the latter. We bought this print in a tiny shop not far from Les Deux Magots, one of Hemingway’s preferred haunts. The Hotel Cluny in the sketch is now a wonderful museum. In the too-long intervals between trips to the City of Lights, I often find myself absorbed in this print. It sustains my connection to Paris and to the literary giants who lived and loved there nearly 100 years ago.
A two-time winner of the Stephen Leacock Medal for Humour, Terry Fallis ( @Terryfallis) is the author of six national bestselling novels.
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