Becoming a Londoner: A Diary

Becoming a Londoner: A Diary

by David Plante
     
 

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"Nikos and I live together as lovers, as everyone knows, and we seem to be accepted because it's known that we are lovers. In fact, we are, according to the law, criminals in our making love with each other, but it is as if the laws don't apply. It is as if all the conventions of sex and clothes and art and music and drink and drugs don't apply here in

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Overview

"Nikos and I live together as lovers, as everyone knows, and we seem to be accepted because it's known that we are lovers. In fact, we are, according to the law, criminals in our making love with each other, but it is as if the laws don't apply. It is as if all the conventions of sex and clothes and art and music and drink and drugs don't apply here in London . . ."

In the 1960s, strangers to their new city and from the different worlds of New York and Athens, David and Nikos embarked on a life together, a partnership that would endure for forty years. At a moment of "absolute respect for differences," London offered a freedom in love unattainable in their previous homes. Friendships with Stephen and Natasha Spender, Francis Bacon, Sonia Orwell, W. H. Auden, Christopher Isherwood, and David Hockney, and meetings with such Bloomsbury luminaries as E. M. Forster and Duncan Grant, and a developing friendship with Philip Roth living in London with Claire Bloom, opened up worlds within worlds; connections appeared to crisscross, invisibly, through the air, interconnecting everyone.

David Plante has kept a diary of his life for more than half a century. Both a deeply personal memoir and a fascinating and significant work of cultural history, this first volume spans his first twenty years in London, beginning in the mid-sixties, and pieces together fragments of diaries, notes, sketches, and drawings to reveal a beautiful, intimate portrait of a relationship and a luminous evocation of a world of writers, poets, artists, and thinkers.

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Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
A memoir of young love and life among literary lions. Novelist Plante (The Pure Lover: A Memoir of Grief, 2009, etc.) excerpts from his voluminous diary, here covering his first years in London, chronicling his artistic coming-of-age in the mid-1960s. The author moved in heady circles, counting such artistic luminaries as Francis Bacon, David Hockney and W.H. Auden as friends, and the young writer took in this milieu with a novelist's attention to detail--and a literary tyro's self-obsession. This period also marked the beginning of Plante's long-term romantic relationship with Nikos Stangos, a politically engaged, erudite expatriate Greek--and the subject of The Pure Lover. The evolution of Plante's relationship with Stangos and his experiences navigating the fraught social circle of London's art scene are the focus of the narrative. The young Plante groped hungrily for an identity, accumulating political awareness, a sense of Englishness (Plante is a native of Rhode Island), artistic accomplishment, respect and community. As is perhaps inevitable in a diary, the reading experience is periodically bogged down by repetition; there are an awful lot of dinner parties and lunches to get through. But even at this stage, Plante was a crafter of limpid prose, possessed of keen insight and sympathy. He also displays a rare gift for finely wrought characterization. The poet Stephen Spender, an intimate of Plante's, vividly emerges from these pages as a profoundly endearing sad-uncle figure, an accomplished man of letters beset by insecurity and furtively hiding his homosexuality from his forceful wife, Natasha. A richly detailed document of the London art scene of the '60s and an affecting memoir of the artist as a young man.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781620401880
Publisher:
Bloomsbury USA
Publication date:
09/24/2013
Pages:
544
Sales rank:
1,476,451
Product dimensions:
6.10(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.80(d)

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