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Joe Gould's Secret by Joseph Mitchell
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Joe Gould's Secret

by Joseph Mitchell

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  1. 00
    The Arcades Project by Walter Benjamin (melmore)
    melmore: Joe Gould's (imaginary, non-existent?) secret history of New York has always struck me as a shadow image of Benjamin's sprawling but likewise somewhat-imaginary history of 19th century Paris.
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» See also 6 mentions

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This is apparently comprised of a pair of New Yorker articles. Redundant and odd story about a redundant and odd New York bohemian. ( )
  Sandydog1 | Jul 29, 2013 |
I love this book. 3rd time read. One of my favorite works of nonfiction, up there with In Cold Blood and [b:Fear and Loathing|7745|Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas A Savage Journey to the Heart of the American Dream|Hunter S. Thompson|http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1165639648s/7745.jpg|1309111] in Las Vegas. I've liked all of Mitchell's books--reports from New York at its cultural peak--but Gould goes to the next level, a unique peek into how people love an outsider artist, and the realities of his actual life. Seagulls everywhere would be proud. ( )
  Carl_Hayes | Mar 30, 2013 |
Reading anything by Joseph Mitchell is worthwhile and reading "Joe Gould's Secret", a fascinating profile of a well-known Greenich village eccentric, is well worth your time. Joe Gould was, for upwards of thirty-five years, a homeless dropout living from day to day on his wits and handouts from any sympathetic ear, whether friends or strangers, surviving on a diet of fresh air, dog-ends, strong black coffee, fried egg sandwiches and bottles of diner-bar ketchup supped off a plate. ("the only food I know that's free of charge") The two parts of the book, headed Professor Seagull, and Joe Gould's Secret, first appeared in the New Yorker in 1942 and 1964.

The son of a medical practitioner, Harvard-educated Gould arrived in New York in 1916 and soon dismissed all thought of holding down a steady job when he had a flash of inspiration to write what he called "An Oral History of Our Time. Over many years, Gould would add daily to this work "in progress" even when badly hung over; loading his fountain pen in the Village post office, scribbling in grubby, dog-eared school exercise books in parks, doorways, cafeterias, Bowery flophouses, subway trains and in public libraries. Some of these hangouts also served as places to doss - alternatives to the floor of an artist friend's studio or a subway station. 270 filled notebooks had been stored in numerous drops for safekeeping until the work was completed.

Mitchell, intrigued by the "Oral History" idea, wrote a compassionate profile of Gould showing much patience and sensitivity in his dealings with his subject with whom he spent an inordinate amount of time. When a publisher friend of Mitchell asked to see Gould's material, with a view to publishing a book of selections, an indignant Gould declared that the material would either be published in its entirety or "not at all". Scruffy in appearance, wearing cast-offs, often unwashed for days at a time, all the time dogged by "homelessness, hunger and hangovers", ("I'm the foremost authority in the U.S.A. on the subject of doing without"). Gould's norm was to hang around bars and diners in the Village cadging food, money and drinks from friends, visiting tourists and other regular contributors to the "Joe Gould Fund". Once asked what made him as he is today, Gould answered it was all down to a strong distaste for material possessions, Harvard, and years on end of bad living on cheap booze and grub "beating the living hell out of my insides".

Gould died in 1957 whereupon Mitchell, who knew as much as anyone about the "Oral History", was persuaded to join a Committee set up to organise the collection of the mass of scattered material that made up "An Oral History of Our Times". Joe Gould's secret??? That's for you to discover when you read the book! If you enjoy "Joe Gould's Secret", read also "McSorley's Wonderful Saloon" and "Up In The Old Hotel", marvellous collections of profiles of old-time New York characters in a New York that is no longer. ( )
1 vote michaelmurphy | Apr 16, 2010 |
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» Add other authors (2 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Joseph Mitchellprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Cohen, MarceloTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Janssen, SusanTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Maxwell, WilliamIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Schönfeld, EikeTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Steinberg, SaulIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Book description
Includes: Professor Sea Gull (orig. in The New Yorker, Dec. 12, 1942) and
Joe Gould's secret (orig. in The New Yorker, Sept. 19 & 26, 1964)
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0375708049, Paperback)

Now a major motion picture starring Ian Holm, Hope Davis, and Stanley Tucci, who also directs.

Joseph Mitchell was a legendary New Yorker writer and the author of the national bestseller Up in the Old Hotel, in which these two pieces appeared. What Joseph Mitchell wrote about, principally, was New York. In Joe Gould, Mitchell found the perfect subject. And Joe Gould's Secret has become a legendary piece of New York history.

Joe Gould may have been the quintessential Greenwich Village bohemian. In 1916, he left behind patrician roots for a scrappy, hand-to-mouth existence: he wore ragtag clothes, slept in Bowery flophouses, and mooched food, drinks, and money off of friends and strangers. Thus he was able to devote his energies to writing "An Oral History of Our Time," which Gould said would constitute "the informal history of the shirt-sleeved multitude." But when Joe Gould died in 1957, the manuscript could not be found. Where had he hidden it? This is Joe Gould's Secret.

"[Mitchell is] one of our finest journalists."--Dawn Powell, The Washington Post

"What people say is history--Joe Gould was right about that-- and history, when recorded by Mitchell, is literature."--The New Criterion

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:51:45 -0400)

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