Grippes was the beneficiary of an American patroness of the arts, the “last of a generous species”(Miss Mary Margaret Pugh, who appears in “A Painful Affair”, “Larry”, and “A Flying Start”). She left him three apartment buildings, including his place of residence in Montparnasse. Eager to maintain this secret, Grippes agrees to pay taxes on imaginary earnings, on a book which performed dismally, simply to avoid further investigation.
I mean, sure, he puts up a show of a defense. He tries to claim his cats as dependents. He expresses shock and dismay. He makes dramatic queries. He prepares his excuses, lest the apartments be discovered (now or later). And, meanwhile, he maintains his simple existence. His efforts to find appropriate offal for his cats must intensify (he has to travel a great distance for a single sheep’s lung) and he spends hours battling the cockroaches that live behind the stove.
And all the while, executing the minutiae of everyday life in Paris, he thinks about his work. He
recalls his characters, like Karen Sue, whom he tolerated, indulged even, which probably “weakened the book” (the project for which he now owes taxes). And he observes and reflects upon the changing hues of the file folders which contain his records and what this indicates about the status of his account and the world at large. And the status of his relationship with O. Poche.
Grippes “dared believe Poche admired him”, this Poche who is curly haired and like a “child with a box of paints”.