Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Opening Sentence of the Day: The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas

I was born in San Francisco, California.
 -- The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas by Gertrude Stein.

This is one of those books that I have always meant to read but never have. The title is misleading.  Obviously, it is not an "autobiography" because Toklas didn't write it, her partner Stein wrote it. It is about both of their lives, not just a biography of the one. And it may be partly fictional, I'm not sure.

I am only about 50 pages into it and I love it.  It's like falling down a rabbit hole and waking up in pre-WWII Paris -- Montmarte, to be exact.  Here's Picasso and Cezanne and Duffy and they are all gathering at Stein's atelier and looking at paintings at salons and having dinner parties.

This book is on several of the lists I am working on: Erica Jong's list of Top 100 Novels by Women, the Radcliffe list of Top 100 Novels of the 20th Century, and my own French Connections list.


  1. This is one of the few Gertrude Stein writings that I was able to get through and enjoy. Be warned: NEVER try reading Tender Buttons unless you want to drive yourself crazy.

  2. I read it a looong time ago and (if I remember rightly) loved it. I should re-read it. Or maybe just go to Paris again. Or read it in Paris.

  3. I've always meant to read this book, too, but never did. Nice to see a few words about it here. . .


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