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New York in the fifties by Dan Wakefield

New York in the fifties (1992)

by Dan Wakefield

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Dan Wakefield writes nostalgically about his time in New York City from his college days at Columbia until he leaves for Boston on a Nieman Fellowship in 1963, and makes the reader feel nostalgic too. Nostalgic for the days when rents were affordable, when jazz greats were playing in smoky clubs in the Village. where there were five or six thriving daily newspapers and the printed word was king. Dan Wakefield was seemingly in the midst of it all: writing for Esquire, drinking with James Baldwin and Norman Mailer and listening to the tragically great Billie Holiday. Those days are long gone and will never come again. It's nice that talented writers like Wakefield have captured the mood and ambiance of the time so we can visit vicariously. ( )
  etxgardener | Sep 27, 2016 |
Spoilers, (are they possible)? I read this because Den did & loved it's picture of NYC. It is pretty romanticized. All the woman are lovely, at least all the women that he notices. Obviously he had his own problems, he describes cutting one wrist toward the end of his time in NYC and says he hadn't done that for a while...but he didn't tell us about the previous time(s) or even why. He talks about how everybody went to psychoanalysis because of sex, but he describes a great sexual encounter and then silence. It just doesn't feel real, just an imagined wonderland. And you wonder about the internal lives of the others too. But on the surface it is an amusing tale of the writers who made it in the 50's, in a scattershot & unsystematic & not very thoughtful style.
  franoscar | Sep 12, 2011 |
The final male generation to wear ties and jackets during their post-teen literary and lifestyle revolt is celebrated with a nostalgic look at the village: sex, jazz, alcohol and real writing (real according to Wakefield; he didn't like Kerouac's writing, but grew to respect him, somewhat). Wakefield liked writing that kept meter and rhyme as it blasted the 50's corporate lifestyle. He accounts for the New York literary 1950's with the mingling of midwestern book reading WWII vets and Brooklyn Jews at Columbia and then through their migration down Manhattan to the village as they got jobs--real paying, writing jobs at leftie journals (not like the newly arrived beats who just experienced the village and maybe did some drugs too). Then everyone got promotions, more money, and children so they had to leave NY to the beats. Wakefield seems to have interviewed everyone from the 50s in some bar or another down in the village when he wrote the book. Not a bad assignment. ( )
  kerns222 | Jun 26, 2011 |
My generation always thinks it began to happen here in the late 1960s. Turns out NYC was pretty cool and interesting place in the Fifties, Mad Men notwithstahding, I grew up reading Wakefield’s journalism here, and this book shines, ( )
  cmeatto | Jan 1, 2009 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0395513200, Hardcover)

A look back at the New York City during the 1950s explores the tastes, politics, and culture of the era, discussing free love, jazz, radical politics, Spanish Harlem, psychoanalysis, Mailer, Joan Didion, Talese, Trillin, Ginsberg, Kerouac, and more. 15,000 first printing.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:17:48 -0400)

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