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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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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 |
Well, I can't do any better than the two reviewers on Amazon (below) -- in fact, I would've begun my review the way S. Kiritz did by saying, "I loved this book!" It's one of those rare histories/memoirs that really offers a window onto an era, while actually inspiring us to think creatively of our own time. And bless Dan Wakefield's heart for undertaking the sheer hard work that producing this book entailed.

By Stewart Kiritz "bookish" (CA USA)
I loved this book! Then again I loved "Wonderful Town," and "Manhattan." I was born in New York, and remember sneaking away to take the subway from the Bronx at age 8 in 1950 to catch glimpses of the glittery awsomeness of Manhattan. Leaving New York in 1954, I returned as an adult much later and made friends who had been part of the dizzying scene of the fifties ...intellectuals, bohemians. Reading this book so vividly recreates an era that, as the cliche says, will be no more. Perched between the Gotham of the 1930's, the art deco towers, the Met, the Frick, and the Space Age of the 1960's there was a post-war mecca for the arts and letters. New York was the center of it all. I have no idea how this book will be perceived by those who have not experienced this period, at least in some way. Perhaps that is the story of some of the reviewers who didn't like it. But for me, the book is like candy.

When the written word mattered..., July 18, 2003 By A Customer
I found this book inspiring, funny, and beautifully written. It carried me to a time, before cell phones, the internet, dvds and instant communications, when the written word mattered, when books and magazines and letters were greeted with high anticipation and made a difference in people's lives. When books mattered, ideas mattered, friendships were the stuff of life, and art was not only a creative expression but an affirmation, a challenge to take the high road, to live life to the fullest. This book will put zest in your soul. I recommend it highly. ( )
1 vote lulaa | Oct 15, 2008 |
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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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