Ernest Hemingway, Humphrey Bogart and Hoagy Carmichael, Song from ‘To Have and Have Not’…

Comme nous avons des belles choses en France… I was looking for one of my favorite songs on YouTube, and apparently it was removed for copyright violation.

The song is from the film with Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall, based on the book To Have and Have Not, by our friend Ernest Hemingway, with the great Hoagy Carmichael singing on the piano.  The French have more liberal copyright laws and they’re hard to pin-down in a court of law… fortunately for us because we get to ‘see’ this lovely song published (with the scene from the movie), on the French version of YouTube, called ‘DailyMotion’:

By the bye: this is definitely not an advertisement for DailyMotion, I don’t even really like their website to tell you the truth. I just wanted to share it with you in case you can’t find some of your favorite songs on YouTube, you can try this other stupid site, which is, however, less-stupid than YouTube.

Sincerely Yours,

Roman Payne

PS: If the link above does not work, write me an email and I will send you the MP3 to listen to.

Novelist, Roman Payne's "Soliloquies"

If my last novel [Rooftop Soliloquy] was about a heroic man who lived the perfect life in a perfect world, and who met no tragic fate at the end but concluded his adventures in happiness—embracing a woman in the moonlight, he delivers a final soliloquy to praise his poetic adventures and the beauty of life—it was because my own life then was so good, my own adventures were so poetic.  It was the climax of my life, there was no reason for a tragic flaw.

I was quite young then (thirty-two), and the city of Paris was my kingdom.  By this time, Paris had opened itself to me like a blossoming flower inviting me to feast of its nectar; the people of Paris were all on my side.  I saw no downfall in sight for myself.  Every street I turned down, in every neighborhood, I would hear:

View original post 1,442 more words

Dublin, Ireland

I just woke up in Dublin,

With a belly full of cider and sin.

And leaning on my side,

I reached in my pocket for the railway paper

Where I’d scrawled a single verse

While travelling Ireland from east to west.

It read…

Life is Not a perpetual climb towards Greatness.
For our family, ourselves, and friends,
it is but sad Decay, and,
let every girl die after her Hebé (Ἥβη)
and every man after his Aristeia (ἀριστεία).

And reading it over, I added nine lines that my dreams left behind.  A second verse to conclude the first…

There is nothing more lovely on all of the earth,
In space, to the stars and the moon
In the dark of a wood,
On the sand of a beach,
Or the Curl of a Wave—
Then the Innocence
Of a young girl, save
The Beauty of
Woman Bloomed.

Last night I took the road to Chantilly…

Last night I took the road to Chantilly…

“The Road Taken”

It was one of those delicious nights.   In Lamorlaye, I called on M– who gave me lodging in her castle…. 

The estate of the illustrious Madame de M–.

The servants were asleep by the time I arrived.  I asked my hostess for a cup of hot sheep’s milk, she brought me a keg of wine.  Ô, did I sleep and dream, last night!  Ô, did I feel fine!

I dreamt I spied Artemis bathing in her fountain.

(Diane dans son bain, ses jambes d’ivoire)…

The fountain of Artemis, Le bain de Diane.

Figure this: Diane didn’t turn me into a stag; she gave me two kisses, and one more keg!

So, to-day I am off to Ireland. Travel be good to me!       –Roman 

Paris today, Dublin Tomorrow, then 1,000km of Bicycle Exploration in Western Ireland

Today I’m having lunch in Paris.  Tomorrow, it’s dinner in Dublin!  Then, after an evening touring the city of James Joyce and Samuel Beckett and a good night’s sleep, I’ll head north-west to Sligo (also called “Yeats Country” since the poet WB Yeats spent his childhood there.  This land of waterfalls and cliffs, mountains and beaches, and rolling hills, Yeats called “the country of the heart.”

Atlantic coast of Ireland, with soaring cliffs, beaches, waterfalls, and hilly terrain. I will cover 80km-90km of this region per day on bicycle.

From Sligo, I’ll began a 10-day solo bicycling tour, riding 80km to 90km per day.  I will stop to take photos, learn about the culture, the history, and literary heritage of this region of Ireland.

Each day, after my exertion, I’ll stop at one of the auberges, or beds-and-breakfasts (chosen by the operator of the tour company), and sleep until the first light of dawn.  Then, it’s back on the bicycle!  I will have ridden close to 1,000km by the end of the tour.

Please follow along with my journey by checking back with my blog, my Facebook page, and/or on

The region I will discover is described as one of the most beautiful, and least explored regions of Ireland.

A Problem of Aesthetics: Must we kill the ‘Perfect’ Hero in literature? An explanation of what is preventing me from finishing my fifth novel…

Lord Byron in Heroic Dress

ABOVE: Lord Byron, the heroic literary figure. Could he have received public approval if it weren’t for his club-foot and rumors of his unhappiness?

If my last novel [Rooftop Soliloquy] was about a heroic man who lived the perfect life in a perfect world, and who met no tragic fate at the end but concluded his adventures in happiness—embracing a woman in the moonlight, he delivers a final soliloquy to praise his poetic adventures and the beauty of life—it was because my own life then was so good, my own adventures were so poetic.  It was the climax of my life, there was no reason for a tragic flaw.

Arthur Rimbaud

ABOVE: Rimbaud received the gifts of The Muses at a very young age. He was cocky and self-assured. But without his adventures in Africa that cut his life short, would he have received the approval of the reading public?

I was quite young then (thirty-two), and the city of Paris was my kingdom.  By this time, Paris had opened itself to me like a blossoming flower inviting me to feast of its nectar; the people of Paris were all on my side.  I saw no downfall in sight for myself.  Every street I turned down, in every neighborhood, I would hear: “Ça va, Roman?  C’est bien de te voir !”  Every sip of air in those years was like a quaff of Helen’s nepenthe—that Homeric drug to enliven, invigorate, to forget all sorrows of the past and see beauty even in moments of wretchedness.

So, in the temporary bliss of it all, I eliminated those most common devices of literary narrative: that of the heroic person in a wretched or dangerous world who overcomes through strength and cunning; and that of the flawed person in the good world, who because of his flaw eventually dies or ends up like the biblical Job, on the dung-heap.  Other writers in my position would have made “Rooftop” a comedy, ending in marriage and laughter.  But my strength is poetic prose.  I am a descendant of Racine, not Molière.  The comic hero is a buffoon.  I wanted to create a Heracles with a harem, and that’s what I did.  Some people enjoyed this book immensely.  One critic said, while he praised the beauty of the prose, which made it worth reading; he found the main character to lack depth.  Is this because I was not yet thirty years-old when I began writing it?  I think no… I think it was because I gave the character no real flaws, I didn’t kill him at the end, and all of this was on purpose!


Few readers enjoy reading about “the positively good man”—the hero who possesses beauty, good fortune, luck, and an overall enviable life.  Some writers who see the world as beautiful, and human-potential as infinite, have tried to express their awe in the presence of life, but they fail to move the reader—unless they give the glory to Nature or to God.  Critics approved of Walt Whitmans “Song of Myself,” but they believed he was glorifying either God or “the multitudes” (the “common people”).  Whitman was glorifying himself.

To express an awe for what you are… not what Nature or God is, but you…  A writer who can pull this off deserves a Nobel Prize.   But, then again, he or she who can smash cockroaches with a shoe in a pitch-black room deserves a Nobel Prize.

The old method, one that Charles Dickens used, was to make the protagonist become heroic through overcoming adversity.  Yet what about the writer who doesn’t take Voltaire’s expression of Candide as a joke?  “All is perfect in a perfect world!”  The heroic soul says, “There is no adversity to overcome!” …at least our hero is above all such adversity (Heracles with no “labours” to undertake).  Only poetry can make such a book interesting.  Without poetic narrative, any pastoral adventures of Heracles as he drinks red wine from the belly button of a naked nymph, this is rather boring.

With my novels, I have been attempting my own aesthetic style that I think is new in literature.  At times, I feel I succeed.  Other times, I fear that I am failing miserably.  Here is more on that…

Dostoevsky’s  notes reveal his intense aesthetic conflict over how to write his novel, The Idiot, where he wanted to create “the positively good man,” (“Christ-like,” as he wrote).  Yet Dostoevsky knew that in novels, perfect people are uninteresting.  One tires of their beauty and success.  Dostoevsky pulled-out his hair over the problem of how to make Prince Myshkin likable and still perfect.  His solution was to give his hero epilepsy, as well as a naïve simplicity that inspires the other characters to mock him.

In Homer, we have Odysseus who is more like a god than a man.  But we excite ourselves during his story because he has imperfections and adversity: he hasn’t seen his wife in 20 years.  He doesn’t know his own son.  And we don’t know if his losing of all his voyage companions is the fault of the gods, or his own fault (after all, the only account we have of Odysseus’ companions dying, is the account he gives to Alcinoos in the first-person.  The only time that “monsters” appear and eat Odysseus’ friends, is the time when Odysseus tells the story himself—and Odysseus is one of literature’s greatest liars!).   Odysseus has a duplicity that makes him interesting, and the reader doesn’t know if he truly god-like.  His humanness is apparent in the end when he isn’t satisfied with domestic life (his reunion with Penelope) enough to stay in Ithica.  His wanderer’s nature comes back like an illness, forcing him to take him back out to sea.  Poor wanderer!

Knut Hamsun is an exquisite example of the innovative writer.  Both in Hunger and in Mysteries—his two best novels—he creates “the brilliant hero.”  In Hunger, his hero is a genius writer who has no trouble telling the reader he is a genius.  The only problem is that the hero can’t afford to feed or lodge himself.  In Mysteries, the hero Nagel is also a brilliant man, and has the added quality of being independently rich.  His faults lie in depression, suicidal nature, and his inability to obtain the woman of his dreams.

Pietros Maneos succeeded with his character of Gabriele (The Italian Pleasures…) despite the fact that Maneos and I share a literary aesthetic vision.  Gabriele is handsome, with the physique of a Greek hero, he lives the enviable life of the aristocrat on the Grand Tour.  He enjoys women as he fancies them.  He is a Romantic and lives like one, but he doesn’t seem to share the flaws of past Byronic heroes.  Where Maneos succeeds is, for one, the age of his hero. Gabriele is in his early twenties.  Readers kindly excuse the lofty self-importance of youths, knowing that later: “the poor boy will come to realize what the world is really like, and his ego will suffer for it.”  World-weary disillusionment isn’t a stranger to Gabriele, who finds himself in a Europe that is not the Europe of antiquity, but a crude fossil, inhospitable to his genius.

In “Rooftop,” I wanted to describe our world as a perfect, hospitable setting for my Romantic hero.  The need for money, and other crude topics are left-out.  Beauty is everywhere, and nothing is as beautiful as my hero and his muses.  While writing “Rooftop,” it was easy to believe myself in such a world.  Today, after a few personal tragedies, and after losing the microcosm of beauty that was Paris, I see with more and more clarity the crudeness of our world.  Thus, I am more and more concerned with the future of my aesthetic style.  It is for this reason, (as well as others that I will go into another time), that I haven’t yet finished my novel The Wanderess, which has been in progress for almost four years (four years of literary uncertainty!)  If I had lower-standards for this book, I could have finished it after the first year; it would have read like a run-of-the-mill French libertine novel of the 18th Century (which is not at all bad).  But I want The Wanderess to take heroism to a new level, and still move the reader to tears of joy.  I will certainly fail with the former, as these days, heroism is not my primary literary concern.  I am an adventurer who has seen the dark-side of the adventurer’s life and it would be a lie if I didn’t share this with the reader.  As for the tears, I can always save my art through the poetry of my prose.

While I’ve lost confidence in many of my powers as of late, I retain the power of poetry and a knack for creating plots.  The great pre-occupation for me is touching the emotions of the readers: for it is the tears of the reader that water the fruit in the gardens of the gods.  Persephone ate of one such fruit, and because of this she can only feel the warm flesh of the sun for part of the year, the other part she is thrown into darkness.  Perhaps the literary hero and the literary figure (the writer), must obey such condemnation.  The literary hero must die or experience wretchedness to gain the empathy of the reader.  Recall that headaches are born of orgies with wine.  Remember the sores of syphilis are born of nights of love.  With Zeus as my witness, I will perfect a new genre of literary heroism, or die trying.  In the meantime, while I tinker in my workshop, I praise my readers and fellow novelists for forgiving my excesses and shortcomings.

Your Humble Servant,

Roman Payne, Son of Helen of Troy

My Self-Explanation…

I am a novelist currently wandering in Spain.  I am writing my fifth novel, which will be published in six months.  It is about a girl who wanders as I do.  She passes through many countries and sleeps in strange beds as I do.  Her life is strange as mine is.  Our lives are poetic and absurd.  I enjoy looking at my life as an object of curiosity.   When I drink red wine and wander the European streets at night, and the lantern light glows orange on the stones, I feel as though I am character in a Roman Payne novel.  Although my characters are happy for the most-part, they are also sensual and suffer from excessive dreams.


I am the last male in my line with the name Payne.  If I were lucky enough to have a wife, instead of remaining solitary as we novelists are so often condemned to remain, I would devote myself to creating children and would consider their creation as worthwhile as writing a novel.  Yet I would prefer to have all daughters, (save for one male heir to carry on my name), since as far back as I can remember, girls have delighted me beyond belief.  When I was six years old, I had the honor of attending a Catholic school where my class was composed of twenty-eight girls, and four boys including myself.  It was no doubt then that I learned all of the qualities and habits that have stuck with me to this day, namely: sensuality.


I am fond of dishes with saffron.  I can devour the spiciest chili peppers in any marketplace; and the hotter they are, the more pleasing.  Honey is excellent only when it is white in color, and very opaque.  I appreciate wild mushrooms of all varieties, especially when they are sautéed in a fine oil.   I have a friend who is a great pianist.  He is from Certaldo in Italy, the birthplace of Boccaccio.  His family produces the best olive oil that I have ever tasted.  When it comes to cheese, I like a strong Roquefort most of all.


The only place I call home is Paris.  It is a city where I lived for eleven great years.  I first moved there in 1999 when the currency was the franc and it was very cheap.  I moved back again in 2004 when the currency had become the euro and it was very expensive.    To be sensual and full of dreams are both dangerous qualities to possess if living in an expensive city.  I left Paris one year ago and went to try to live in Marrakech, but just as Paris was a perfect match for my personality, Morocco was ill-suited to it.  I left Morocco with my ambitions in turmoil, and have since been wandering… from Madrid to Athens, Greece; to Seattle (the city of my birth), back to Athens, to Sofia, Bulgaria; and now to Valencia, where I sit currently, writing this self-explanation, seated on a leather bench in the suite of the Caro Hotel, where outside the rain pounds on the tiled rooftops and on the belfries of the Cathedral in the Plaça de la Reina.


I will leave Valencia soon and I do not know where I will go.  I never know where I will go.  That is the sorrow of living the life of your dreams: that I am a novelist, I guide my occupation, it does not guide me.   And this world is an endless terrain of changing shapes and hillsides, all similar shades of green they go off this-way, come from that-way; and not knowing why or to where, how can a man know where to lead himself?  Is it not senseless to wander?  Is it not absurd to stand still?                       


–  ROMAN PAYNE  (Valencia, Spain; November 12, 2012)


“My books primarily focus on the lives of heroic individuals who strive to live the poetic life.”


Roman Payne is the author of five books: Crepuscule, Cities & Countries, The Basement Trains, Hope & Despair, and Rooftop Soliloquy.  He is published by ModeRoom Press.  His next novel: The Wanderess will be published in 2013 chez Aesthete Press.