According to Janet Malcolm in her book Two Lives, "It is generally agreed that without Alice Toklas, Stein might not have had the will to go on writing what for many years almost no one had any interest in reading." And apparently with Alice, Gertrude was like a child, completely incapable of taking care of her most basic needs.
The walls of their Paris apartment were covered with art work by Picasso, Matisse, Cezanne, Renoir. They threw many parties attended by Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Joyce, Pound, Wilder, as well as Matisse and Picasso. Gertrude presided over the parties, while Alice presided over Gertrude.
When Gertrude Stein got tired of not getting any recognition, she set out to write a best seller. Gertrude wrote a novel posing as Alice writing her autobiography. In it, Alice is always going on and on about what a genius Gertrude Stein is.
Gertrude wrote (according to Mabel Dodge in Intimate Memories) "automatically in a long weak handwriting - four or five lines to the page - letting it ooze up from deep down inside her, down onto the paper with the least possible physical effort; she would cover a few pages so and leave them there and go to bed, and in the morning Alice would gather them up."
Tad Neuhaus, bass
Joanna Dane, vocals
Gertrude Stein, words
Sappho takes us down to the creek
Where she eats the magic flowers
That allow her to hear
The voices of the ancestors.
Who can believe such a thing?
Until we hear her sing.
We sink into her banks,
Weeping and howling,
Bound by her haunting calls.
Who else has she already spun under her spell?
The boys from down the street?
I ask, but the others just laugh,
"Someday she will be famous!"
But they say that about any pretty girl
Willing to feed them flowers
And sing to them love songs.
Tad Neuhaus, guitar
Joanna Dane, vocals
and gold chickpeas were growing on the banks
Sappho, Fragment 143
The poets for hire sat three in a row on Frenchman Street.
Two had typewriters.
Two wore hats.
One wore leather suspenders.
They all puffed on cigarettes.
How do we choose? we asked.
The one without a hat said he was despondent.
The one wearing suspenders said he was happy.
The one on the end wrote by hand.
We chose the happy one in the middle.
What subject? he asked.
My husband suggested,
"What's Cuter: Puppies or Babies?"
Because my brother had been pressing us on the question all day.
My brother says puppies.