Franklin Mason

Franklin Mason has actually been in Paris and Pamplona but spends most of his time in Baltimore with his wife, cat, and lots of books. He once worked on the Sunpapers (shades of H. L. Mencken) where he was, he thinks, a copy editor. But he gave it up for the good life. He is at last a writer only, or didn’t Scott Fitzgerald say that? Asked for an estimate of his own work, he replied: “Possible the finest of our time. John Barth, Samuel Beckett, Henny Youngman must move over.” This is a short estimate. Do not ask him for a long one.

Four Roses in Three Acts

Four Roses in Three Acts brightened my whole day. I loved Gertrude Stein “genuising”; I loved Hemingway walking the poodle and Zelda throwing her what-nots around. It’s a sparkling, fresh, exuberant book, and Franklin Mason is a very funny writer.

Anne Tyler

Four Roses in Three Acts

Franklin Mason

Four Roses in Three Acts, by Franklin Mason (FC2, 1981)

Quality Paper
ISBN 978-0-914590-65-1


It is Paris and the Twenties again and Gertrude Stein and Ernest Hemingway are much alive. Hemingway again has four wives but this time all at the same time. But that doesn’t keep him from running off to Pamplona with Miss Stein and running with the bulls. There’s a party at Sara and Gerald Murphy’s that is strangely like one of Gatsby’s. There’s a literary cast of thousands. Some may see it all as a spoof, namely on Hemingway’s own The Torrents of Spring. But all’s well that ends well, or so we hope.


You’d have thought The Torrents of Spring had rendered further parodic visions of the twenties impossible, but you’d have been wrong. Four Roses in Three Acts is both economical and wonderfully sustained.

Hugh Kenner