Memoirs of Montparnasse
by John Glassco, introduction by Louis Begley
Memoirs of Montparnasse is a delicious book about being young, restless, reckless, and without cares. It is also the best and liveliest of the many chronicles of 1920s Paris and the exploits of the lost generation. In 1928, nineteen-year-old John Glassco escaped Montreal and his overbearing father for the wilder shores of Montparnasse. He remained there until his money ran out and his health collapsed, and he enjoyed every minute of his stay. Remarkable for their candor and humor, Glassco’s memoirs have the daft logic of a wild but utterly absorbing adventure, a tale of desire set free that is only faintly shadowed by sadness at the inevitable passage of time.
The title calls to mind a whole genre of books...But Glassco's book, published from a manuscript nearly forty years old, is fresher and truer to the moment than the others, as well as being more novelistic and, in a sense, legendary.
— The New Republic
This is a delightful, on-the-spot report of the days when it was still possible to be very young, very hip and very happy all at the same time...this precious, witty document from a long-vanished younger generation has both the freshness and remoteness of some ornate space ship found intact in a forgotten tomb.
— The New York Times
John Glassco's Memoirs of Montparnasse was mostly written before the author was 21, although it wasn't published until long afterward. It should be read at last and recognized as the most dramatic of the many narratives dealing with Paris in the 1920's.
— Malcolm Cowley, The New York Times
It's wonderful to see John Glassco's charming Memoirs of Montparnasse getting the international recognition it deserves. Like its author—whom I knew quite well in the 1960s—the book is a loveable and eccentric rogue, fond of style and up to mischief. It never fails to entertain.
— Margaret Atwood
Here are the memoirs...lively and libidinous, surfacing like some shining tropical fish out of the depths, and with all the elegance of their author's youth...It is all there—the twenty-four-hour days, the burning of candles at both ends, the obsessions and compulsions, the strange divorce from what was going on in the world, the crazy parties, the beautiful fool's paradise from which the Depression ultimately awakened us.
— Leon Edel
Memoirs of Montparnasse is one of the most joyous books on youth—the thrill and the gall and the adventure of it. It is also one of the best books on being in literary Paris in the 1920s.
— Michael Ondaatje