Portraits is by no means an autobiography, but it is intensely personal, and in the last chapter it describes what it was like to live and work in Paris as a young man with a young family. The Times’ bureau was at 37 Rue Caumartin. I used to come out onto the street after work about 6:30, often accompanied by Bob Alden, another of the correspondents, the two of us hoping to share a taxi home, if we could find one, for we lived near each other. Usually it was full dark by then, for in Paris during most of the year it gets dark early. In the middle of the Boulevard Haussmann, about a block away, there was always a line of taxis, drivers ostensibly waiting for fares. Unfortunately they were waiting only for fares headed in the direction in which they lived, not in the direction in which we lived, and these were the only fares they would accept. Alden and I would walk along the row, stick our heads in the drivers’ windows, give our address and ask—beg would be more accurate—if they would take us home. Usually they would not speak to us nor even look at us. We would wait a minute of two for the answer, not get one, then walk on to the next cab in the line. This became a traumatic enough experience that we used to take turns asking. Some nights we found a willing driver. Most nights not. Two or three rejections and we gave up. Sure they were only stupid taxi drivers, we told ourselves, as we headed for the Metro. Nonetheless they represented two or three more rejections in a lifetime full of rejections, and at that time of night two or three was all we were willing to take. A writer—all artists--gets more rejections than most people. All those years starting out, and afterwards too. One accepts them, one doesn’t get used to them. And so I was reminded of Paris cab drivers while trying and failing to get my books onto The Nook. Getting rejected because of some technicality over and over again by Barnes and Noble’s stupid computers was equally hard to take. Sure it was only a computer. Sure. It was still a rejection. It made me feel in some way inadequate, as rejections do. It made me feel frustration rising almost to the level of outrage. It made me very unhappy.
But I did get the first two books accepted and published finally, there are already 22 available on Kindle, and the next 20 on The Nook should be easy. Easier, anyway.