Sunday, February 22, 2009
Have you ever heard of Louis Adamic? I never had until his name jumped out at me from the yellowing pages of the Literature Club archives, and I began to regret my lacuna.
His death remains a mystery, while his books are – alas – out of print.
On account of the Literature Club’s centennial (previously mentioned and sure to be mentioned again) I have been reading the minutes – inscribed in anachronistic penmanship in log books carefully tended at the Historical Society – and trying to form an accurate record of all the annual programs since our inception. In the course of which I am constantly impressed by the studious intentions of the ladies, as well as their musical talents (most meetings included a recital of appropriately relevant music, anything from Southern spirituals to Verdi arias) and I am constantly discovering the names of popular writers and poets no longer popular, or even read.
One name has cropped up enough times to make me curious, not least because of its prelapsarian intimations, that of Louis Adamic. On various occasions, the ladies read and discussed his books, including, The Autobiography of an Immigrant in America (1932), The Native’s Return: An American Immigrant Visits Yugoslavia and Discovers his Old Country (1934) and The House in Antigua (1937) .
Born is what is now Slovenia, Adamic came to the US right before WW I and eventually worked as a journalist. Not having read his work, I am guessing that his novels were of the social realism school of Upton Sinclair.
He died in 1951 by gunshot. But whether it was self-inflicted or whether he was assassinated by a Balkan faction angry with his stand against King Alexander, has never been determined.
If you look up Louis Adamic, as I did, you will discover that he has quite a lengthy FBI file, and that much of it is redacted.