The Nightinghouls of Paris is a thinly fictionalized memoir of the darker side of expatriate life in Paris. Beginning in 1928, the story follows the changes undergone by Canadian youths John Glassco and his friend Graeme Taylor during their (mis)adventures in Paris while trying to become writers. There they meet Robert McAlmon, who guides them through the city’s cafes, bistros, and nightclubs, where they find writers and artists including Kay Boyle (with whom Glassco has a fling), Bill Bird, Djuna Barnes, Claude McKay, Hilaire Hiler, Peggy Guggenheim, and Ernest Hemingway.
Fleeing France in late 1940, Robert McAlmon lost his notebook manuscripts and drafted
The Nightinghouls of Paris from memory. Till now, it has existed solely as a typescript held by Yale University. Unlike most memoirs of American expatriates in the ‘20s, The Nightinghouls of Paris centers not only on writers, but also encompasses the racial, national, and social mélange they encountered in everyday life.