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The Golden Spur by Dawn Powell

The Golden Spur (1962)

by Dawn Powell

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1523118,069 (3.67)18

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Good, but forgettable book. Set in Ohio and NYC in 1962. ( )
  FoxTribeMama | Sep 25, 2016 |
A satiric (and sometimes satyric) romp with Greenwich Village characters, this admittedly slight book is most entertaining in its portrayal of those characters - the writers, would-be writers, painters, hangers-on and prodigious drinkers. The uniting thread is a young man from Ohio who is looking for his late mother's lover, so that he may find his true role model. In the process, he gets his city education, and we get a picture of the Village in the 1950s. ( )
  ffortsa | Mar 4, 2011 |
1962. A young man from Ohio goes to the Village to try to find his real father. He finds many men who think they could be his father and has a crazy time with the bohemian art crowd on the way, but I'm not sure he ever figured it out. The ending was a bit ambiguous. Great time to be in New York, great details, excellent writing, good plot. ( )
  kylekatz | Jan 1, 2008 |
Showing 3 of 3
In The Golden Spur we see the Village at a point of its decline that is rather squalid: bearded beatniks and abstract painters have seeped in among the Guggenheim fellows, the raffish N.Y.U. professors and the adult-edu-cation students. It is a phase with which Miss Powell is evidently not so intimate and not so sympathetic as she was with the Village of an earlier time but which she nevertheless accepts as still more or less cozy and more or less fun in the good old Village tradition...

I ought not to reveal whose son the boy unexpectedly turns out to be, but Miss Powell, who has sometimes been criticized for the formlessness of her novels and their inconclusive endings, has constructed here a very neat plot, and for once in her career played Santa Claus and made her hero a generous present. She then has him reject, however, the privileges of the social position to which he is now entided and flee from the opening of an uptown gallery that he has undertaken to subsidize, in company with an erratic and much esteemed painter—you never know in Miss Powell’s novels whether the painters are really any good—who has become its principal star but who prefers to the patronage of the affluent a lodging in a rickety warehouse near Houston Street, on the lower West Side.
added by SnootyBaronet | editNew Yorker, Edmund Wilson
In 1962, Powell published her last and, perhaps, most appealing novel, The Golden Spur. Again, the protagonist is male. In this case a young man from Silver City, Ohio (again), called Jonathan Jaimison... On that blithe note, Powell's life and life-work end; and the wheel stops; the magic's gone-except for the novels of Dawn Powell, all of them long since out of print, just as her name has been erased from that perpetually foggy pane, "American Literature."
added by SnootyBaronet | editNew York Review of Books, Gore Vidal
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The hotel stationery was Wedgwood blue like the wallpaper, delicately embossed with a gold crest and a motto, In virtu vinci, a nice thought, whatever it meant, for a hotel.
A giant crane was the star performer, lifting its neck heavenward, then dropping a great iron ball gently down to a doomed monster clock in the front wall of the structure, tapping it tenderly, like a diagnostician looking for the sore spot. Does it hurt here? here? or here? Wherever it hurts must be target for the wham, and wham comes next, with the rubble hurtling down into the arena with a roar. A pause, and then the eager watchers followed the long neck's purposeful rise again, the rhythmical lowering of the magic ball, the blind grope for the clock face, and then the avalanche once more. The cloud of dust cleared, and a cry went up to see the clock still there, the balcony behind it falling. "They can't get the clock," someone exulted. "Not today! Hooray for the clock!" The spectators smiled and nodded to one another. Good show. Well done, team!
"Phone call, Doctor Kellsey," said the bartender. "What do I tell her this time?"

"Damn it, does a light go on all over the city every time I step into a bar?" cried Dr. Kellsey indignantly. "You told her once, didn't you, that Doctor Kellsey hadn't been in for weeks?" "This is a different lady, Doctor," said the bartender.

"Ah. My wife. In that case tell her you don't know any Doctor Kellsey." He waited till the bartender hung up. "What did she say?"

"Said I was lucky," said the bartender.

"Damn these female bloodhounds," said the professor.
"You one of those college creeps?" Darcy asked Jonathan politely. "Is that why you got stuck with that stuffy professor?"

"Kellsey isn't stuffy except when he's on the wagon," Lize said severely. "Personally I like him. He's just a good-natured old slob that hates everybody, that's all. Be fair."
"All right, then, let's go," he snapped, taking long strides to throw off Anita's prim little high-heeled steps, her thighs never parting as if afraid of wandering rapists. "I haven't much time because I must see this young chap I mentioned, the son of my old student—"
The truth had no part in love anyway, except for the truth of finding each other at the right moment.
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To a Greenwich village bar comes young Jonathan Jaimison seeking the identity of his true father. Innocently bewildered, he wanders among the raffish crowd: the two yong women with whom he shares a squalid studio ('He heard them arguing over the respective merits of their diaphragms and had the good sense to know they were not speaking of singing.') the sexually voracious gallery owner, the faded lady novelist and various seedy men who obscurely welcome the notion of retrospective paternity. Witty, acute and surprisingly touching, this novel is as sparkling and bitter-sweet as a Manhattan cocktail.
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