My Queer War
by James Lord
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
352 pages, $27.
IN PARIS, while serving with the U.S. military during WWII, James Lord found his way to an address on the rue des Grands Augustins and informed the secretary who opened the door that he had come to see Pablo Picasso. He had no appointment, but Lord’s uniform provided bona fides; Americans had just expelled the Nazis (Lord amusingly points out that it didn’t take long for some Parisians to resent that favor).
The soldier and the artist hit it off, and Lord became a regular at Picasso’s 11 a.m. studio receptions. Some months after their first meeting, according to Lord, Picasso made a pronouncement. He took Lord by the shoulders, pivoted him to face the other guests, and said, “Here is my young friend Lord. Look at him closely. Someday he will surprise us. There will be great things in his future. He will do something to astonish us someday.”