The Nightinghouls of Paris
by Robert McAlmon; edited by Sanford J. Smoller
University of Illinois Press
264 pages, $40.
ROBERT MCALMON. The name may seem familiar, but probably as an adjunct to some other writer. Born in 1895, as a teen he may have been in love with Gore Vidal’s father, as Vidal infers from McAlmon’s later novel Village. In 1921, although gay or bisexual himself, he accepted a marriage proposal from H.D.’s lover Bryher, an arrangement that got her family off her back and got him a solid income. In Paris in 1923, he used money from Bryher’s family to establish the Contact Publishing Company, which published modernist works by Djuna Barnes, Gertrude Stein, William Carlos Williams, and Nathanael West. He went to the bullfights with Hemingway, he published Hemingway, he gossiped about Hemingway, he got punched out by Hemingway. And because he knew everyone in Paris, he turns up in the memoirs of many of the American expatriate writers of the time.