Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Nobel Prize checks freshly written pay the bills

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Roy R. Behrens, Snap Shot. Digital montage (©2021). 


Ione Robinson, A Wall to Paint On. New York: E.P. Dutton, 1946, pp. 152-153—

When I made a drawing of [American writer Sinclair] Lewis [who had just received the Nobel Prize] I had to take the train out to his country house. I was all in when I arrived but the afternoon and the trip back were so amusing I forgot how tired I was.

I made the drawing in his study, while Mr. Lewis wrote out checks to pay his bills with the Nobel Prize, and there were freshly-written checks all over the desk and the floor. I would have liked to paint him in that foreground of blue paper, which only increased the redness of his face and hair. He looked just like a carrot.

In a basket beside his desk there was a tiny baby with a wisp of red hair on the top of its head. Each time Mr. Lewis would finish a check, he would talk to the baby: “Isn’t it wonderful, Michael, that Daddy has won the Nobel Prize?” I had an awful time making the drawing because he was never still, but his face had made such an impression the moment I saw it that the drawing was fairly successful.

On the train back to New York Mr. Lewis joked a great deal about receiving the prize and the fuss that it had created throughout the country, especially among other contemporary writers. He told me how mad Theodore Dreiser was…and then he added that Dreiser ought to be tinting “fish plates.” I didn’t get the connection, and I don’t think there was any, as Mr. Lewis had had about ten highballs!