Five Years Later: The Journey of My Own Plain Edition

September 12th, 2016 § 0 comments § permalink

This year is the 5th anniversary of my book GERTRUDE AND ALICE AND FRITZ AND TOM. I know it’s a cliche, but I must say it anyway – “Where has the time gone?” 

The book has found its way to readers around the world and just last week I shipped another five copies to Shakespeare & Company in Paris, which has sold more copies of it than any other bookstore or online retailer, which I find so appropriate and gratifying.

Would I do it again? Yes! Do I have more tales to tell, yes! But for now, here is my post from five years ago, as I awaited the first shipment of books from Singapore:

Wasn’t it Lady Macbeth who said “What’s done is done,” at some point either before or after that bloody dagger scene? (Just checked, it’s after the dagger scene – that would be logical !)

…the deed is done!

Well, I’ve done it too and feel a bit like a parent dropping off his first child at kindergarten hoping for the best as tears well-up and Miss Crabtree leads the young one away to join the other rascals.

Miss Crabtree in charge

So what is it that’s been done – the children’s picture book which I’ve been working on for…let’s just say many,many years is on its way to a printer in Singapore!

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GertrudeandAliceandFritzandTom…andSamsonandCaesar: Two Anniversaries Await in 2016

September 8th, 2015 § 0 comments § permalink

As we move from one season to another, it’s common to reflect on where the time has gone and can it really be time to exchange one set of clothes in the closet for another? (Those of us who live in the San Francisco Bay area or similar climates, usually have both spring/summer and fall/winter clothes ready year round.)

Come September, it’s also time to look ahead to things happening by the end of the year and those that will inaugurate the coming year. In my GertrudeandAlice world there are a few items in the offing if all goes according to plans.

My anniversary-obsessed mind has pinpointed two in 2016, though as the new year gets closer and closer, I’m sure there may be others.

This coming year marks the 5th anniversary of my picture book GERTRUDE AND ALICE AND FRITZ AND TOM and (drumroll, please!) the 90th anniversary of Gertrude’s famous, Caesar haircut! Since the book is set in 1925, Gertrude still has her woman bun.

map of paris copy

Ooops, that's not The Gert! All Hail, Brando!

Ooops, that’s not The Gert! All Hail, Brando as Mark Antony!











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Holiday Wishes: GertrudeandAliceandFritzandTomand-MatthewandTrevor!

December 18th, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

A post from Paris via Fogo Island, Toronto and San Francisco.

As the year ends with the usual holiday celebrations, it is also time to celebrate another event, the 3rd anniversary of the publishing of GERTRUDE AND ALICE AND FRITZ AND TOM.


Sometimes it feels as if this happened a long, long time ago, but whenever I pick up a copy of the book to send out, there are still very positive feelings of accomplishment, newness and satisfaction.

A few weeks ago, those feelings hit an all time high when a package arrived from Toronto. In it was an exquisite bottle of Turkey Hill maple syrup – “Canada No. 1 Light,” some Mary MacLeod’s Shortbread – “Handmade All Butter,” two, attractive greeting cards (one with the Cat in the Hat, the other with the image of a folk art style elephant), several photographs, and a block letter written note, which looked very much like the one from Fritz and Tom in my book.

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Fritz Peters at 100: A Tribute by Any Other Name…

March 2nd, 2013 § 0 comments § permalink

There are certain people, both real or imaginary, who will always remain children in our memory.

From Peter Pan and his followers in Neverland, to Christopher Robin dragging Winnie the Pooh behind him, to the precocious rascals of the Our Gang comedies and the Depression-era tap dancing and ever-smiling Shirley Temple, these young ‘uns are ageless!

The ageless Peter Pan

The ageless Peter Pan

A bumpy ride for Mr. Pooh.

A bumpy ride for Mr. Pooh.

All together now rascals!

All together now rascals!

Miss Temple tapping the blues away!

Miss Temple tapping the blues away!

I’m adding to this menagerie of Shangrila cuties, Arthur Anderson Peters, who wrote under the name Fritz Peters.  Fritz would have turned 100 years old today.

Fritz at the age he was in Gertrude and Alice and Fritz and Tom

Fritz at the age he was in Gertrude and Alice and Fritz and Tom

It was the wonderful chapter in his memoir, BOYHOOD WITH GURDJIEFF, which inspired me to write my picture book GERTRUDE AND ALICE AND FRITZ AND TOM.  I just couldn’t resist retelling the story of two young boys, Fritz and his brother Tom, reveling under the tutelage of GertrudeandAlice in 1920s Paris.  (Woody Allen, there’s a Paris sequel for you!)  And Fritz’s quote about his years at the boarding school outside of Paris helped to make the decision to do the book even easier:

 “I have never forgotten that winter.  The long evenings of reading and study in our warm rooms [and] looking forward to my visits to Paris with Gertrude and Alice.”

On his 100th birthday, I pay tribute to Fritz Peters, a tribute that is long overdue.

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Confessions of A First-Time Picture Book Writer One Year Later (and it ain’t all pretty!)

November 11th, 2012 § 0 comments § permalink


“Ill get you my pretty, and your little dog too!”

11.11.11.  The eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. That’s today.  It was the day and time in 1918 that World War I – you know the war that was to end all wars (Right!)-ended.  It was formerly know as Armistice Day, but was changed to Veteran’s Day because it was easier to spell and WW I did not end all wars.


11/11/18 Wall Street, NYC

11/11/11 last year is also the official day that Tom Hachtman and I decided would be the publication date of our book GERTRUDE and ALICE and FRITZ and TOM.  We liked the way it sounded and considering all of the alliteration in the book seemed right. By the way, have heard from Tom and there is lots of post-Sandy cleanup in his home in Point Pleasant Beach, NJ.

Now one year after the publishing of our book on 11/11/12 some thoughts about the book on its first anniversary.

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Full Circle, Charmed Circle and Shakespeare & Company!

March 21st, 2012 § 0 comments § permalink

I have often referred to the book CHARMED CIRCLE by James R. Mellow as it was the book that first got me interested in Gertrude Stein and her crowd.

Now I’m so happy to announce that the contemporary incarnation of an iconic institution that played a pivotal role in the lives of many members of Stein’s Charmed Circle  is now selling copies of my book GERTRUDE AND ALICE AND FRITZ AND TOM (GAAAFAT.*)

[*not to be confused with what many a gay man is trying to lose at Gold’s Gym!]

That institution is Shakespeare and Company in Paris! The original bookstore sold and championed the works of Stein, Joyce, Hemingway, and Fitzgerald among many others.  Its modern counterpart has continued the tradition for more than sixty years.

James Joyce, Sylvia Beach and Adrienne Monnier in the original Shakespeare & Co., 1920

The current Shakespeare and Company at 37, rue Bûcherie, one of the Parisian landmarks included in Woody Allen’s hit movie “Midnight in Paris.”

I must confess that copies of the book are already at another Shakespeare & Co., the beautiful, little English-language book shop in Vienna located on the poetically named street, Sterngasse (“star way“), which is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year. But having copies of the books in Paris within a catapult’s boulder throw from Notre Dame is such a thrill.

Not to mention that were Fritz and Tom to turn around in the illustration in the book in which they are on Notre Dame’s tower (within the watchful glare of a gargoyle), they would have a direct view across the Seine to where the current Shakespeare and Co. bookstore has been located since 1951. (The bookstore, founded by George Whitman was originally named Le Mistral, but was renamed in 1964 as a tribute to Sylvia Beach who died that year.)

Whitman died in December of last year at the age of 98.

Born in Baltimore, Sylvia Beach moved to Paris in the last years of  WWI and  opened Shakespeare and Company at 8, Rue Dupuytren  in 1919.  Two years later it moved to its famous location at 12, Rue de l’Odéon. The shop was a combination English-language bookstore and lending library replicating the French version of the store that had been started by Adrienne Monnier who would become Sylvia’s life partner . Gertrude and Alice were among the first holders of “library cards”.  In her autobiography, published in 1959 Beach recalls the “Two Customers from Rue de Fleurus”:

“Not long after I opened my bookshop, two women came walking down rue Dupuytre.  One of them, with a very fine face, was stout,wore a long robe, and on her head, a most becoming top of a basket.  She was accompanied by a slim, dark, whimsical woman: she reminded me of a gypsy.  They were Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas.

…Gertrude subscribed to my lending library, but complained that there were no amusing books in it.  Where, she asked indignantly, were those American masterpieces The Trail of the Lonesome Pine and The Girl of the Limberlost?

…To make up for her unjust criticism of Shakespeare and Company, she bestowed several of her works on us: quite rare items such as Portrait of Mabel Dodge at the Villa Curonia and that thing with the terrifying title, Have They Attacked Mary: He giggled:A Political Caricature.

A moment of intimate gossip between Sylvia Beach and Alice in Paris, 1959

Another connection between GAAAFAT and Sylvia Beach and Shakespeare and Co. is Joyce’s book ULYSSES.

Jane Heap  and Margaret Anderson, the guardians of Fritz and Tom, serialized the Joyce book in The Little Review  from 1918-1921. Publication of the book was halted when the U.S. government considered the material in the last installment obscene: it contained a masturbation scene.

Margaret Anderson and Jane Heap

Heap and Anderson were tried and a portion of the book was declared obscene.  They were fined $50 each.  Sylvia Beach published ULYSSES in 1922, but it was banned in the U.S. until 1934 when it was judged “not pornographic, so it could not be obscene!” Only 1000 copies were printed and are among the most prized books by collectors of 20th century first editions.

The amusing book at Shakespeare and Company, Paris 2012

Well, now that copies of GERTRUDE AND ALICE AND FRITZ AND TOM  are at Shakespeare and Company in Paris, let’s hope that were Gertrude Stein to stop by today, she would be as pleased as punch to find that amusing book there, a few shelves away from the American masterpieces by members of her Charmed Circle!




Pussy, Pussy, Bo, Bussy…:The Name Game!

February 18th, 2012 § 0 comments § permalink

The following post is rated R ,”Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian!”

In the last few months there has been a controversy raging following the publishing of Barbara Will’s book Unlikely Collaboration: Gertrude Stein, Bernard Fay, and the Vichy Dilemma.  In her book, Will delves into one of the aspects of Gertrude’s life that is recounted every few years in various books and articles: how did she and Alice as lesbian, American Jews survive in Nazi-occupied France during WWII?  Gertrude’s close friendship with Fay, a Vichy government sympathizer, and his role in preventing GertrudeandAlice from being rounded up by the Nazis is not new information. However, it is Will’s contention that Stein too held strong pro-Vichy and pro-Nazi sentiments that has caused a firestorm in a large contingency of the Stein Fan Club.

But now there is a new, potential controversy brewing regarding my picture book Gertrude and Alice and Fritz and Tom.

The word “Pussy” is used four times in the book- pages 4, 13, 35, and 61 and is one of the many affectionate names GertrudeandAlice had for each other.

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A Happy Gertrude and Alice and Fritz and Tom Holiday!

December 17th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

Wishing one and all the best of holidays and an oh so special 2012!

Some of you know that over the years I’ve often sent holiday cards with various stickers or other items collaged on them. This year greetings once again go out via this blog which I’m sure does not make the ailing postal service happy.

This year’s card is the cover of Tom Hachtman’s and my book with a couple of holly stickers afixed to add a festive touch.

The book sales are going well, but there are still plenty of copies if you haven’t gotten one yet. Books have found their way to Australia, Norway, Austria and Canada in addition to many corners of the U.S.

Also, in the new year watch for book events around the globe – the Artful Adventure Tour is just beginning!

Wishing you the happiest of holidays !



November 17th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

The book has arrived!

The book has arrived!

The book has arrived!

It has arrived. The book.

The book that is not a chair.

A chair that is not the book.

But the  book sitting there.


So there.

Ooops! There is a book chair there!

With my attempt at Steinese, I am so happy to announce that the first shipment of GERTRUDE and ALICE and FRITZ and TOM has reached the U.S. shores from the printer in Singapore. (Actually they arrived by air freight, flying above the shores, with the larger shipment coming by sea and literally reaching our shores in Los Angeles in a few weeks on a ship named England.}

The book is beautifully printed and bound.

Gertrude and Alice and Fritz and Tom by Hans Gallas Illustrations by Tom Hachtman

Gertrude and Alice and Fritz and Tom by Hans Gallas Illustrations by Tom Hachtman

My previous post told the tale of how the book got to be and now will come the book’s marketing adventures!

If you have any favorite bookstores that should be stocking the book, let me know. I’m also planning events highlighting the book around the country and abroad in the next six months.  I’ll keep you posted on those here and on Facebook.

All ideas of people I should contact and places I should go are welcome.

You can order your copy (or copies) by clicking on the book‘s cover in the right column or going to and the book will be on its way. Books are $19.99 for the 72 page hard cover edition with a dust jacket and can be paid for through PayPal.

Once the final shipment arrives, I’ll also be setting up purchasing through

One box of books has actually made a return trip across the Pacific to my friend Jane Turner’s book shop, the Gertrude and Alice Café Bookstore in Bondi Beach, Australia.

Gertrude and Alice Cafe Bookstore well-stocked

How fitting that the first bookstore in the world to stock the book is named after Our Ladies of Rue de Fleurus.

Gertrude and Alice and Fritz and Tom would certainly chime in to agree.



May 22nd, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

In my children’s book Gertrude and Alice and Fritz and Tom, which I hope will soon reach the bookstores of the various museums where the Stein exhibitions are being held, the two young boys who visit rue de Fleurus encounter the atelier’s floor-to-ceiling paintings for the first time:

“Look at this really rambling room!” whispered Tom.  “There are masterful modern paintings floor to ceiling!  It looks like a museum!  I hate museums, everything in a museum is musty and moldy.”

Fritz pressed his nose against one of the paintings.  “This person has four flaming eyes and three thick ears and is not musty and moldy!”


Tom Hachtman's Fritz and Tom

I can assure you that there is also nothing musty or moldy at  The Steins Collect exhibition which opened last week at SFMOMA !

In the 25+ years that I’ve been obsessed with GertrudeandAlice I have had moments more extraordinary than the proverbial “aha!”  moments. I  would have to say that they are  more like  “ah Stein!” moments!

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