My Older Legacy Literary Blog

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

A Brief History of Authors in New Orleans (plus another lost entry)

I wanted to talk about writers and New Orleans but first I would like to mention that I am doing rewrites per a publisher of a novel tentatively titled CREATURE FEATURE, cowritten with David Mathew of Britain.  The cover has not been chosen yet.  In other news, four of my latest eight books are going out of print due to a publisher tanking.  I made a few short story sales and am still waiting for a book of mine to be published in Germany that has been translated already.  

.New Orleans is preparing for Mardi Gras so I thought I would talk about writers in the French Quarter of N’awlins. 

If you ever wanted to know where Weird Tales writer and friend of H.P. Lovecraft lived, SF fantasy writer E. Hoffmann Price lived at 300 Royal Street.  Some of his later Chinese Fantasy books are excellent.  Lovecraft visited him in June of 1932.  Here is the backstory: 

.Price’s relationship with H. P. Lovecraft did not get off to an auspicious start; in a 1927 letter, Lovecraft remarked that his story ”The Strange High House in the Mist” was, after ”grave consultation with E. Hoffman Price”, rejected by Weird Tales’ Wright ”as not sufficiently clear for the acute minds of his highly intelligent readers”

.But when Lovecraft visited New Orleans in June 1932, Robert E. Howard telegraphed Price to alert him to the visitor’s presence, and the two writers spent much of the following week together. The legend is not true that Price took Lovecraft to a New Orleans brothel, where he was amused to find that several of the employees there were fans of his work; the story, apocryphal or not, was first told about Seabury Quinn. L. Sprague DeCamp mentioned the Seabury Quinn rumor in his biography of Lovecraft. 

 During the New Orleans stay, Price and Lovecraft tried to get Robert E. Howard to show up but he couldn’t afford the trip from Texas. But Price eventually met the inventor of Conan the Barbarian when he took a trip to Texas in the 30’s, the only pulp writer to actually meet Howard.

 In New Orleans the first night, Lovecraft sat up with Price for around nineteen hours and several pots of coffee for the longest conversation you could imagine.  He had arrived there and called Price from his hotel, having just travelled through an &”industrial Baton Rouge.&”  He must have seen the Standard Oil Refinery here (now Exxon).  

300 Royal Street eventually became a unique bookstore years later, a bookstore with no real name or sign out front. 

Sometimes there would be a proprietor there and sometimes there wouldn’t, actually.  It was a nice musty place where you had to carefully walk through mazes of stacks to see some unearthed treasure of a tome. 

I remember when I went there once, they were selling mint condition Argosy’s from the early 1930’s for five dollars apiece. There were stacks of old newspapers, Life magazines, every possible book you could imagine with the dust of antiquity.  The last time I went there it was shut down, empty. I am sure there is a new business there now..

Next to the St. Louis Cathedral in the French Quarter there is a small alley named “Pirates Alley.”  A place in that alley is called the “Pirates Alley Bookstore.”  It used to be a two story apartment of a young William Faulkner where he wrote “Soldiers Pay.”  There are signed copies of books of his and Tennessee Williams and numerous others.  

Faulkner lived at another time on another street in New Orleans in a third floor apartment where years later on the street below, William Burroughs used to score his heroin and Lee Harvey Oswald handed out pamphlets on that corner.  

There are several apartments in the French Quarter where Tennessee Williams lived that have historical markers on them.   

In Jackson Square near the Jax Brewery and the Cabildo and the Cathedral, on one side was an apartment where Sherwood Anderson lived and way on the other side lived Anita Loos, screenwriter friend of Aldous Huxley. 

  On Bourbon Street is The “Old Absinthe House” which used to serve absinthe long ago but the spigots are still there, and now that Absinthe is legal again in Louisiana, they probably serve it again now. It has been around for over 200 years, since around 1806.  There was a famed meeting there of pirate Jean Lafitte and Andrew Jackson on the second floor, planning the victory of the Battle of New Orleans.  Outside this bar at 240 Bourbon Street is an historical marker naming a few celebrities that visited New Orleans: (many left out here):  

Mark Twain (he became a riverboat pilot here), Henry Thoreau, Ralph Waldo Emerson, singer Jenny Lind, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Washington Irving, Jack London, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Herman Melville, Enrico Caruso, Aldous Huxley, Walt Whitman (he was editor briefly of the New Orleans Crescent newspaper down here). Oscar Wilde visited here (I’ve also seen a picture of him in front of the Vicksburg, Mississippi Opera House). I’ve left out dozens of other writers that visited or stayed in New Orleans.  Eugene O’Neill took a drunken rail trip down here. Charles Bukowski lived here for a while.  Kerouac stayed at W.S. Burroughs house on the West Bank of the City as noted in ”On the Road.”  Nelson Algren lived here and was a grifter and confidence man; Walker Percy wrote ”The Moviegoer” here. William Sydney Porter started writing as O. Henry after he came through here for a while to escape embezzlement charges in Texas.  Scott Fitzgerald lived Uptown on now bohemian Prytania street in 1920.  Malcolm Lowry and his wife Margerie were editing a late draft of “Under the Volcano” in a bar on St. Ann street and got thrown out for that instead of drinking and not editing.  

The very fancy Monteleone Hotel is where Truman Capote stayed for a good while as a child and they say that is where he first got a sort of air of privilege.  

The large D.H. Holmes building on Canal Street had a clock on the front of it. This clock was the proverbial place in New Orleans for people to meet under, and was the setting in the beginning of “Confederacy of Dunces” where Ignatius Reilly agrees to meet his mother.  John Kennedy Toole taught English at University of New Orleans for a while and later committed suicide after no one wanted to publish Confederacy of Dunces.  

The literary history of New Orleans far surpasses this blog listing. If you go to .

 on my webpage and scroll beyond the bio stuff you’ll see a more complete list of writers of New Orleans and Louisiana in general.  And if you go to the small link at the bottom of that list as noted you’ll see an even more complete list of writers with their former addresses.  

You can take a Literary Walking Tour in the French Quarter which is a lot of fun. There is a Voodoo Tour, a Swamp Tour (down the road), a tour of Old Metairie Cemetery, and a Ghost Tour.  

There are a couple of neat Voodoo shoppes in the French Quarter as well.  The French Quarter is a great place to visit.  Lots of bars.  Malcolm Lowry’s ”Under the Volcano” opens with a description of Cuernevaca as having a certain number of bars and churches and golf courses.  Sure there are lots of bars in New Orleans. But the restaurants are just as plentiful and some are the greatest in the world: Galatoires, Brennans. You can get a great oyster poboy, dressed, here.  Mardi Gras is coming up very soon and everyone can swill as much liquor as possible before they get ashes on their forehead.  


Another lost blog entry:

There is a podcast of a short story by me, David Mathew (was reviewer for Interzone) called “The Red Spectre” on, edited by horror writer Sidney Williams. It is free to listen to and was inspired by a real silent film made in 1907.
The film features a diabolical red/sepia-tinted, masked skeleton character who hops around a surreal set and pantomimes bizarrely.  He madly makes chemical potions and concoctions and disappears on occasion only to reappear and makes others vanish in puffs of smoke as he gleefully looks on and continues to hop and jump around the hellish set.
Here is the listing for this bizarre silent film at .
Le Spectre rouge
(The Red Spectre)
Also known as El Espectro Rojo in [?] Spain?; The Red Spectre in the USA
(1907) French
B&W : 190 metres
Directed by Segundo de Chomón and Ferdinand Zecca
Cast: (unknown)
Compagnie Genérale des Établissements Pathé Frères Phonographes & Cinématographes production; distributed by Compagnie Genérale des Établissements Pathé Frères Phonographes & Cinématographes. / Scenario by Segundo de Chomón. / Standard 35mm spherical 1.37:1 format. Color-tinted by Pathécolor stenciling process. / Some scenes originally hand-tinted. The film was released in the USA as The Red Spectre in August 1907.
Survival status: Print exists in the George Eastman Museum film archive [35mm positive]
Here is the IMDB database entry on the film.
Le Spectre Rouge (1907)
Segundo de Chomón (co-director)
Ferdinand Zecca (co-director)
Segundo de Chomón (writer)
Release DateAugust 1907 (USA) A demonic magician attempts to perform his act in a strange grotto, but is confronted by a Good Spirit who opposes him.
Bottle | Skeleton | Cavern | Good Versus Evil | Devil more User Comments
A fascinating, bizarre, and beautiful little film.
In keeping with the History of New Orleans, before Hollywood as a movie factory came about, four cities were considered to be potential centers of filmmaking:  New Orleans, Jacksonville Florida, a city somewhere in New Jersey, and of course, somewhere in California which turned out to be Hollywood.  New Orleans failed as a possible center for this due to the weather factor:  Lighting was critical and they realized that it rained a lot in New Orleans.  The first film made in New Orleans was called Mephisto and the Maiden.

MEPHISTO AND THE MAIDEN (1909/Selig Polyscope Co.) 15mins. Silent. US.
A lustful friar trades his soul with Satan in exchange for two hours with a woman.

The first silent Tarzan movie Tarzan of the Apes (1918) was filmed in the swamps of Abbeville, Louisiana in Vermilion Parish 150 miles west of New Orleans and below Lafayette.  It starred Elmo Lincoln (born Otto Elmo Linkenhelt).

Speaking of Hollywood, Oscar Wilde went there in 1890 with the D’Oyly Dance Company when Hollywood was just a bunch of orange groves and before films were really ever made.

And now to change the subject entirely I thought I would submit this. Here are some little known facts about some Southern writers:

They say that when Truman Capote visited Willie Morris at Ole Miss that it was rumored that they practically dented every car while driving on campus and imbibing.

One day, William Faulkner was invited to take a drive (probably by his good friend Howard Hawks) with Clark Gable.  Gable, trying to take a dig at Faulkner, asked him when he got in the car,
“So, Mr. Faulkner, what do you do for a living?” to which Faulkner responded, “I am a writer.  What do you do, Mr. Gable?” 

When Faulkner lived in the French Quarter of New Orleans long ago, in a third floor apartment (not on the side street Pirate’s Alley where an old apartment of his is now a notable quaint bookstore), he and a lawyer friend of his used to imbibe spirits, and when that happens sometimes it can lead to rather dumb activity. One time they got a bb-gun and from Faulkner’s apartment window the future Nobel laureate and his drunk friend shot bb’s at hapless and unfortunate older, genteel ladies on the backside as they innocently walked down the street in the French Quarter. 


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