Peter Altenberg adored nature but rarely left Vienna for the real thing. He rhapsodized about the daughters of his acquaintances with an inspired ease that today could easily be mistaken for pedophilia, but for physical company he preferred prostitutes for whom he bought flowers and treated to layered cream pastries and hot chocolate. Inspired by Baudelaire, he wrote his poetry in prose paragraphs under the influence of morphine, cocaine and alcohol, but the baroque wallpaper in his room may have been equally influential. The entities that came to life in the wallpaper dictated his frank and weird reflections. For instance: "Forest, lake, spring, winter, woman, art -- all fade away, and there's only one still thrilling thing left: your lovely walking stick!" Altenberg collected walking sticks and was known to wield one if provoked late at night in a dubious neighborhood. He was portly and had a sense of humor that may be untranslatable today, but it made the likes of Kafka and Mann roll on the floor. Fin-de-siecle Vienna bubbled with culture like an overripe Brie or a kirsche torte (chocolate cherry pie) left in the window of a pastry shop too long. Which is why everyone was amazed when the Nazis jackbooted their way through such refinement. Lucky for him, Peter Altenberg was way dead by then, having exited his hefty frame in 1919. Telegrams of the Soul: Selected Prose Pearls of Peter Altenberg is now in English, translated by Peter Wortsman, published by Archipelago Books. Anyone who wants to understand or participate in the current bohemian revival in New Orleans should take a copy of this book to the Gold Mine on Thursdays and let himself or herself be seen with it. Stay off the wallpaper!