Photo © Claiborne Swanson Frank.
Lesley M. M. Blume is an award-winning journalist, reporter, and cultural historian. She contributes regularly to Vanity Fair and the Wall Street Journal, and her work has appeared in many other publications, including Vogue, Town & Country, and Departures.
What are you reading? What's on your nightstand?
I'm already reading up for my next non-fiction book, whose topic I don't want to reveal yet ... but my nightstand has about three or four big dusty tomes related to it. But, for pleasure in the meantime, and as a nod to my just-released book, Everybody Behaves Badly, I am about to start reading Shakespeare and Company Paris: a History of the Rag & Bone Shop of the Heart. And also Bolshoi Confidential, because I am obsessed with all of the drama surrounding Russia's famed ballet company.
Where do you go to get inspired?
Anyplace that has a compelling history. And in NYC, the garden at MoMA always inspires me; here in LA, the Getty Museum - with its glorious mountain-and-sea views - serves the same purpose.
What's something that surprised you recently (in a good way)?
How much I loved being a mother.
Where do you write?
In my office, on my terrace ... and in NYC: at Morandi restaurant in the West village. Here in LA: in the garden of Chateau Marmont.
What/who makes you laugh? Why?
My husband cracks me up: he's pithy and naughty and subversive - and you never see it coming. My kid, who just turned three, is absurd and hilarious. The Marx brothers. God, I love those boys. The Coen brothers. All of the brothers.
Favorite fictional character ever?
How am I supposed to chose? What anguish. Okay, how about a smattering: Gatsby, for everything he said about human longing and the American dream. Lily Bart, for the same reasons. Holly Golightly: for the same reasons. I guess I am obsessed with human longing and the American dream. Oh - one more: Anthony Blanche in Brideshead ... I just adore him.
What do you want readers to know about you and your books?
That I document the genesis of some of the great artistic works of our times; that I am fascinated by the creative process and how the resultant art both represents a moment in time and transforms us. I've profiled works by Truman Capote, Jackson Pollock, and now Ernest Hemingway, among others.
What other amusing, defining facts about me? Hmmm. Well, I have an ancient French bulldog, who has been my assistant and truest companion for more than twelve years. I'm a fifth generation New Yorker on my dad's side. My mom was a piano prodigy who grew up in a MN farm town. Like Isak Dinesin, I love my home but am addicted to far-flung adventure. I write with a vintage Cartier fountain pen that my husband gave me. I woke up this morning at 5 AM to do an interview with a London-based subject, and still told my husband over work that I love my job. So, I guess the seminal thing about me is that I am addicted to storytelling; it's at the core of my being and my raison d'etre.
What are you working on?
Like Hemingway, I am superstitious about talking about my in-progress work, but I'll say this: it's a book that documents another seismic period in modern American history, centered on larger-than-life characters who may be as compelling as the Lost Generation crew I just wrote about in Everybody Behaves Badly.
"The charm and vibrancy of Ernest Hemingway's first novel, The Sun Also Rises, has attracted readers since its initial publication. Journalist and cultural historian Blume's deeply researched backstory enhances the novel's depth and restates its very real significance. It was written within and about the American expat community in Paris in the 1920s, of which Hemingway was one of the foremost figures."
—Booklist, ***Starred Review***
"Blume has carved a mountain of original research into a riveting tale of Hemingway's literary, romantic, and publishing travails."
"Journalist and author Blume (Let's Bring Back) focuses on the events in Ernest Hemingway's life from his 1921 arrival in Paris to the publication of The Sun Also Rises in 1926. Drawing on a rich cache of "Lost Generation" memoirs, as well as Hemingway's and his contemporaries' correspondence, the author portrays Hemingway as a ruthless egotist bent on achieving his literary ambitions, often at the expense of early supporters, including Sherwood Anderson, Gertrude Stein, and Robert McAlmon. Researching the actual trips that form the basis for the roman à clef's account of the San Fermín festival in Pamplona, Spain, Blume reveals how Hemingway transformed the lives of his expatriate friends by turning them into memorable characters in what was soon to become a masterwork of American literature. VERDICT Bloom brings together in one place a wealth of information on Hemingway's first novel that will appeal to students and general readers alike."