February 14, 1907
I’m in Rome now. Still blind, of course. Listened to Nora describe the ceiling of the Sistine chapel to me. “Ooh” she says, “doesn’t Moses have big hands!” Good Lord.
June 4, 1920
News from Paris. In addition to being blind I now get migraine headaches. They’re so painful I have to stop working so I can scream in pain for about three hours. I’m a big hit with the neighbors.
March 10, 1922
Met some fat American today. Wants to be a writer. Wants to take me hunting. Put his gun in my hands. At least, I think it was his gun.
P.S. Still blind.
September 25, 1936
Got a caraway seed stuck in my teeth at lunch today. It’s really killing me. Been trying everything to dislodge it all day. Tongue, floss, toothpicks, table knives. It’s really making me crazy.
P.S. Hey, I got it out!
February 27, 1923
Figured out what the next book is about. Takes place in America and there’s this guy who takes pictures of bridges. He falls in love with a farmer’s wife or something.
Either that or it’s a book about a guy who hates ham. Haven’t decided yet.
March 25, 1937
Just found my pencil. Been looking for it all morning. Things are definitely looking up…
August 26, 1928
Hired a new secretary named Beckett. Writes letters for me. I read them and I have no idea what he’s talking about. One to the phone company starts “The bill. The bill. The bill. I can’t talk about the bill.” What the hell does that mean? It means I am in hell.
December 17, 1931
Greetings from Paris. Yesterday, my son said “Let’s go see Napoleon’s tomb.” Yes, let’s, I thought. And don’t let the fact that I’m blind stop us. Christ.
And even if I could see, why would I want to look at the remains of a dead Corsican when there are hookers flashing their hoo-hahs in Pigalle? Idiots.
June 16, 1940
Summer is here. Remember when we were kids, all the fun we used to have running through the fields, swimming in the river, and laughing our heads off? And then, before we knew it, it was time for dinner and we’d ask ourselves, “where did the day go?” Yeah, me neither.
May 15, 1911
Greetings from Trieste
People in this city don’t know how to walk. Either they take little mincing steps or long loping strides. I don’t know how much longer I can stand it.
November 9, 1915
Had a wonderful dinner last night—some delicious Swiss wine, a lovely steak, and then, to top it all off, flan. Wish you could have been here.
Your flan-loving brother, James
p.s. how’s the life in the internment camp?
August 20, 1932
Yesterday my daughter asked me if I would run off and join the circus with her. Isn’t that precious? She said the two of us could do a high-wire act together and be famous all over Europe. “The Flying Joyces” she called us. Ah, the joys of fatherhood. I only wish she wasn’t 25.
February 2, 1938
So I wake up this morning and suddenly I can see. Good news, right? Wrong. My agent tells me that the “blind writer angle” is key to our sales. So whenever anyone comes over, I have to put on the dark glasses, carry a cane and bump into shit. Somebody shoot me.
January 11, 1941
You still owe me fifteen pounds from lunch last month, and when I get out of hospital next week I’m gonna come over there and kick you until you’re dead.
Your brother, Jim