“Why waste those cute little tricks that the Army taught us just because it’s sort of peaceful now.”
On a day in 1993, David Mason had possession of books and letters by and between writers F.S. Fitzgerald, E. Hemingway, and Morley Callaghan about a boxing match in Paris 1929. Callaghan leveled Hemingway, and whether it was for that reason alone or for many others as well, their friendship broke up. The whole story of the match has yet to be told, but it’s apparently all in the papers Mason locked in his safe one night in 1993.
The next morning, those papers were gone, making the great Hemingway Heist one of the literary world’s great mysteries. Mason tells some of what he knows to The Guardian. (via Prufrock News)
“Hello, this is a recording. You’ve dialed the right number; now hang up, and don’t do it again.”
The intersection of writers with Prohibition was at its most intense in New York City — the mecca for all talented young men and women in the 1920s. Seven thousand arrests for alcohol possession in New York City between 1921 and 1923 (when enforcement was more or less openly abandoned) resulted in only seventeen convictions.
For some writers, Manhattan, with its habitual speakeasies and after-hours clubs as well as its famous flouting of the law even in restaurants, became synonymous with drinking too much. Eugene O’Neill and F. Scott Fitzgerald were two writers who were only able to stop drinking, or at least moderate their drinking, after they left what one minister called “Satan’s Seat.”
Apparently Prohibition was too much a temptation for many writers, some of whom became well known. Of course, Chekhov said, “A man who doesn’t drink is not, in my opinion, fully a man,” so maybe O’Neill, Fitzgerald, and others were his disciples in this way.