Revision in Deadpan

Charles Glass, who lives in London, is an old friend of mine.  He is, moreover, a member of White’s; a witty conversationalist; an American with impeccable manners; immaculate, if slightly Brooks Brothers conservative, in his dress; and almost universally liked.  Hence the fact that he has published, to near unanimous critical acclaim in Britain, a book that is both interesting and unusual is more than a little galling.  We do not always like it when old friends succeed.

The prospect of an academically inclined, or at any rate heavily researched, volume on the fate of the American community in Paris under the Nazi occupation may strike some, as it did me, as a rather dry proposition.  It brought to mind the predicament of the late Curtis Cate, another expatriate friend of mine, who used to contribute a spirited “Letter From Paris” to these pages.  All his life dear Curtis wrote the sort of expensively researched books one comes upon as one leafs listlessly through catalogs of American university presses, yet he was writing them without foundation support and hoping to unload them on mainstream publishers.  It was a dog’s life, perhaps a martyr’s.

“If Charlie is going to write about Americans in Paris under the Nazis,” I had been thinking, as the stubborn scribbler swapped mansards for garrets and shuttled between the sun of the Continent and the slush of London in the building...

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