Hotel Montparnasse by John Bradley


Hotel Montparnasse: Letters to César Vallejo is a verse-novel composed in letters written to the famous Peruvian poet César Vallejo, who died in Paris in 1938.  He was buried in the Montparnasse Cemetery, but soon after, according to these letters, found himself residing at the nearby Hotel Montparnasse, perhaps against his will.  This book tells of his friendships, involvement with a resident named Jeanette, problems with the hotel management, and his eventual disappearance (or is it escape?) from the hotel.  Most of the letter-poems are written by the residents of Hotel Montparnasse, except for those composed by a certain Álvaro de Campos, who reveals little about himself.  This is a book about the mystery of the afterlife, the persistence of desire, and the lasting legacy of César Vallejo.


  • Kind: Perfectbound
  • Pages: 184
  • Language: English
  • Date Published: September, 2021
  • ISBN: 978-1-953252-34-0


Besides its titulary spirit being the great Peruvian poet César Vallejo, this fairytale-like epistolary novella is a serendipitous yet magnificent and, at times, perhaps somewhat daring exercise in Alfred Jarry’s absurdist Pataphysics. Similar to our alchemist of the word, Arthur Rimbaud’s appetite for linguistic innovation, John Bradley effortlessly fuses the seemingly playful and comical with the horrific and disturbing, as, for instance, in the scene where Adolph Hitler steals a battered bicycle to deliver molded (and possibly pissed upon) bread. In this festival of being, luckily, and often through the lens of Fernando Pessoa’s alter ego Alvaro de Campos, we also meet such delicious characters as Joyce Mansour and Jean Cocteau. Deceased Vallejo himself communicates from his coffin or from his death mask. And there’s Hotel Montparnasse, a character in its own right. The hotel muses over events unfolding in an alternate history involving Vallejo’s unpaid bills.  Charlotte Corday hopes that John Bradley will invite all his friends and treat them on $3190.99 worth of Vallejo’s “medicine:” hot chocolate with cayenne and a shot of brandy. Would this lead to more letters from Hotel Montparnasse? And more books by John Bradley? I surely hope so! —Giorgia Pavlidou

The correspondences, as it were, with Spicer’s magisterial, epoch-changing book After Lorca are deeply uncanny. Hotel Montparnasse is like a Poetic Large Hadron Collider, where it’s as if Federico Garcia Lorca and Jack Spicer get smashed against one another at velocities nearing the speed of light, and then all sorts of weird particles careen out, curling and spinning with different colors created by the input program (Baudelaire! Alvaro de Campos! Paul Celan! Remedios Varo! Jeanette!).  But the strangest, most infinite particle is the one who appears to us for the first time, here, even if in indirect, ghostly suggestion: That being the singular Higgs Boson Poet, never having yet shown himself out of the dark matter of the afterlife—the one who is otherwise lovingly known by esoteric adepts, living and not, as the “God Particle Poet,” César Abraham Vallejo. Which is another way of saying that this book is a massive, impossibly complex accelerator, doing its furtive business, for ten trillion miles underground. —Kent Johnson



Due to the sudden vowel shortage:
No chatting over the rutabaga soup.
No bathing before 6 a.m. or after 7 p.m.
No room service after midnight.

No snake cleansing in the greenhouse.
No leaning against the grandfather clock.
No painting the kitchen Venice green.
No chewing on the sun room wallpaper.

Due to the severity of the vowel shortage:
No radios or umbrellas will be repaired.
No Our Lady of Garlic dinner rolls.
No surgical demonstrations in the wine cellar.

No swearing at the staff during breakfast.
No tracing of the moon’s runes on the walls.
No recording of yawns, Monsieur Vallejo.
No exemptions until further notification.

Thanking you for your cooperation,
The Management


John BradleyJohn Bradley was born in Brooklyn, New York, and grew up in Framingham, Massachusetts; Lincoln and Omaha, Nebraska; Massapequa and Lynbrook, New York; and Wayzata, Minnesota.  His first book, Love-in-Idleness: The Poetry of Robert Zingarello, won the Washington Prize, in 1989, and a second edition, expanded and revised, was published by Word Works.  Besides writing poetry, he is also fond of composing aphorisms; his aphorisms appear in the anthologies Short Flights and Short Circuits.  He is the recipient of two National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships, a Pushcart Prize, and a grant from the Illinois Arts Council.  He has been reviewing poetry books for Rain Taxi for many years and currently is an assistant editor for Cider Press Review.  He lives in DeKalb, Illinois, with his wife, Jana, and their cats, Kiki and Zuzu.

Additional information

Weight 11.9 oz
Dimensions 9 × 6 × .5 in