Books: Steinways

CHARMED CIRCLE

by JAMES R. MELLOW 528 pages. Praeger. $12.95.

She defined flowers in terms of infinity: a rose is a rose is a rose. Her description of St. Ignatius' vision of the Holy Ghost was "Pigeons on the grass, alas!" Wit, whimsy, sly associations of sound were Gertrude Stem's forte; when she got heavy or theoretical, she was unreadable. It is a truism of the Lost Generation that she influenced Hemingway's style crucially. He took her schematic use of sound patterns and transmogrified it into the spare, stylized prose that became the most...