I. New York and Hollywood
Pamela Moore wrote most of Chocolates for Breakfast during the summer of 1955. She was 17 years old at the time, working as a summerstock stage manager on Cape Cod Massachusetts. Her novel is the coming-of-age story of a girl named Courtney as she moves between an East Coast boarding school and her divorced parents in New York and Hollywood.
There are strong resonances between Pamela’s experiences as recorded in her letters and journals from that time, and scenes and characters in the book. Notes from her friend Valerie “Veigs” sound as if they could have been written by Janet, Courtney’s best friend in the novel. The diary entries of her meetings with Michael “Dandy Kim” Caborn-Waterfield read like sketches of the scenes with Anthony Neville in the Plaza hotel.
It emerged only much later, when Dandy Kim became something of a celebrity through his business dealings, love affairs, and high-profile court cases, that his trips to Bermuda had in fact consisted of flights between Miami, Havanna, and various British colonial states in the Carribean — where only British citizens could purchase surplus arms from World War II.
II. Crossing to Europe, June 1956
Rinehart and Company bought Pamela’s novel in April of 1956, and the publication date was set for September of that year. With Rinehart’s $1000 advance, Pamela booked passage on an ocean liner from New York to England, en route to France.
On the way to Europe, Pamela Moore, now 18 years old, met Edouard de Laurot, age 34.
Laurot was a man of many identities: a film maker, writer, critic, and advocate of a politically engaged avant garde — le cinéma engagé. Laurot had recently co-founded Film Culture Magazine with Jonas and Adolfas Mekas. Laurot had worked on the set of Jonas Mekas’ film Guns of the Trees. He would soon begin directing Sunday Junction, an experimental film about America’s love of the automobile, set against the vast expanses of highways, shopping malls and gas stations.
After landing in England, Pamela writes a letter to Edouard, who has continued on to France. She tells him that she will be coming to Paris sooner than originally planned.
None of Edouard’s letters to Pamela survive. Many of his letters to the Mekas brothers contain instructions to destroy them, once his questions had been answered and his requests complied with. Pamela may have followed Edouard’s directives more scrupulously than others.
Oddly enough, the 1956 letter in which Edouard first announced to the Mekas brothers that he had met Pamela Moore, bears an unusual heading:
III. The French ‘nouvelle édition’
That first week of meeting on the boat, Pamela and Edouard began outlining her next book. This became Prophets without Honor, her second novel, which would never published.
Soon after, they also began drafting new material to be included in the French edition of Chocolates for Breakfast, working out of a Paris hotel room over the course of several days.
The first French edition, published by Julliard in November of 1956, had been a straight translation of the text as published in the US just a few months prior. This French edition had already begun to appear in bookstores when Moore came to René Julliard with dozens of typewritten pages that she wanted him to include in the book. As Moore would later tell the story, René had at first refused, reportedly telling her “Pamela, even if you were my mistress, I couldn’t do this.” Eventually, however, he agreed.
Julliard released the second edition with the heading New Edition, Revised by the Author printed on the cover. This nouvelle édition omits entire scenes and stretches of dialogue from the original published version, and introduces a great deal of new material, including a preface about the kind of self-censorship (censure par anticipation) that Moore believed she had imposed on herself in the U.S.
* Mauvaise foi commune: communal bad faith, collective false consciousness or lack of integrity.
Here Pamela transcribes a review from L’intransigeante in a letter to Edouard. The review was written by a French critic who had evidently read both the original and revised French versions. Adieu Fraicheur (Farewell Freshness) a pun on the title of Françoise Sagan’s Bonjour Tristess (Hello Sadness).
Laurot’s military, even aristocratic bearing, his sense of participation in history and tales of combat and political intrigue, all must have made a deep impression on an 18 year old American who had just emerged from the world of prep schools and Ivy League dissolution.
Pamela fervently enlisted in his causes, which included the production of Sunday Junction, Laurot’s experimental film about cars, highways, suburbia and American culture. Moore purchased or smuggled into France cameras, film stock, even a car. She drove Laurot to Stockholm and Switzerland, ran errands for him, and awaited his return in various border towns. His work including writing about current trends in cinema, promoting various films, festivals, and Film Culture magazine – in the Soviet-controlled East as well as Western Europe. De Laurot’s passport shows several forays behind the Iron Curtain between the years 1956 – 58, into Poland and East Germany.
IV. After Chocolates
Back in her mother’s apartment in NYC, between European sojourns, Pamela would listen to records of the Red Army Chorus, and write to Edouard about how alienated she felt from the world she had grown up in.
Some time around 1958, mutual friends introduced her to Adam Kanarek, a Polish-Jewish refugee who had survived the Holocaust in hiding, and who was now working in the Slavonic Division library of Columbia University.
Adam and Pamela began corresponding during the periods when she was in Europe. She exhorted him to be more politically active, to embrace a philosophy of commitment and engagement in history. Kanarek once responded that, having witnessed both the Nazi genocide and the Soviet occupation, he was himself skeptical of all ideologies and their calls to action.
Pamela Moore and Adam Kanarek were married in 1958. During the six years of their marriage, Moore finished three more novels: The Exile of Suzy Q, East Side Story (AKA The Pigeons of St. Mark’s Place) and The Horsy Set, but none of these were to prove as successful as her first book. Her husband Adam was at first her loyal champion and her guardian knight, protecting her from the threats of the outside world, ensuring that she might have the privacy and sheltered space in which to write.
Chocolates for Breakfast, which Pamela had written at age 17, includes an episode of severe self-cutting and the suicide of the heroine’s best friend. Both of these events are shown as having a cleansing, redemptive effect, chastising the grown-ups and reminding them of their responsibilities. It is a very young person’s view of suicide as a means of somehow making things right again, a view that Pamela may not have ever outgrown.
The staff at Rosemary Hall, the boarding school on which Pamela Moore based the fictional Scaisebrooke. Carolyn Swift was the model for the kindly teacher Miss Rosen in the novel.
Dandy Kim Waterfield, seen leaving a courtroom in several years later, when he was accused of robbing the safe of film mogul Jack Warner’s house in the Riviera.
Left to right:Pamela Moore in a trenchcoat and sunglasses on a pier; a car unloading from a ferry; a ship at dock. Strip of negatives found in Jonas Mekas’ archives.
Left to right: Jonas Mekas, Adolfas Mekas, Edouard de Laurot
From Edouard de Laurot to Jonas and Adolfas Mekas:
There were some worth while people on board; among them the American Françoise Sagan (but a deeper person) an 18 year old girl writer whose first book is being published and who traveled on the advance money. She became first interested then engrossed in our ideas and I have little doubt her next book (which we started outlining together) will at least bear visible traces of our encounters.
. . . I am in equilibrium again. As you say, the dialectic.
I have been progressing in my elementary education as you outlined it, so perhaps when I see you again I shall have become more conversant.
Pamela Moore in Paris, Aug. 1956, just before the publication of Chocolates in the US.
The French Nouvelle Édition,
Pamela & Edouard, Geneve, ca 1957
Military decoration Odznaka za Rany i Kontuzje,found among the photographs of Pamela and Edouard in Mekas’ archives.
De Laurot’s visa into Communist Poland,
Adam Kanarek reading Kultura magazine photograph by Pamela Moore
V.The Italian Edition:
Sin, Censorship & Redemption
The Italian translation of Chocolates for Breakfast (Cioccolata a colazione) figured prominently in an obscenity trial that took place in Italy from 1960 through most of 1964.
The defendant was Alberto Mondadori, CEO of the largest publishing house in Italy. Notable Italian writers testified in defense of the artistic value of Chocolates for Breakfast, citing the serious and tragic mood of the novel, and the fact that it was “without any doubt sincerely moral.”
Another factor considered in the case was Moore’s recent suicide, which was taken as “evidence of her problematic nature, of her being a serious writer.” In October of 1964, the judges delivered a verdict of Not Guilty.
After being banned for the duration of the trial, Chocolates for Breakfast returned to bookstores throughout Italy at the end of 1964. By 1966, over 400,000 copies had been sold. The book remained a best seller in Italy through most of the 1960’s, and stayed in print there for over forty years, longer than in any other country.
And until the summer of 2014, when Mondadori reissued the novel in a new translation based on the US original, the only version available in that country was based on the French nouvelle édition. It had been a gift, to her new lover, from a young woman very much in love.
VII.The Original US typescript
The American published version had cut roughly a dozen pages of material from the typescript. These passages bear no resemblance to the restored material of the revised French edition. Several of these cut pages are describe the connection between Courtney and Miss Rosen: