In the Night Café

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More About This Book

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
No one writes about the Bohemian New York art and literary scene of the late 1950s and early '60s with more affectionate and rueful insight than Johnson ( Minor Characters ), and this novel, about a doomed love affair with a painter, marks her strongest work so far. A whole era is flawlessly re-created as Joanna, onetime child actress turned Kelly Girl, remembers how she met the boozing, brawling Tom Murphy at a party; they began to live together while he struggled with his painting and his demons. Such characters in novels often become tedious, but here Murphy and Joanna, and their life together, seem to grow so inevitably from their milieu that the book achieves a genuine catharsis. Johnson's narrative tone, in the voice of Joanna, is meticulously maintained: unsentimentally self-aware, wryly observant, accepting without servility. There are wonderful portraits of Greenwich Village characters, with their lofts and odd obsessions. And the scenes with childrenTom's own, by an earlier marriage, and Joanna's son from a later affairhave a transcendent tenderness that is very moving. BOMC and QPBC selections. (Apr . )
Library Journal
The author of National Book Critics Circle Award-winner Minor Characters ( LJ 1/15/83) has written a love story set in Greenwich Village in the early 1960s whose very lack of profundity makes it special. The brief marriage between narrator Joanna and serious painter Tom Murphy is the center of the story. They aspire to be different, yet the need to earn livings, and Tom's losing his son to a previous wife and his art to drink, brings them the ``ordinariness'' they'd always sought to avoid. When Tom dies in a random accident, Joanna wanders to Europe, another marriage, and a retrospective of the losses and joys of her life that make up this impressive novel. With one chapter a winner of the O'Henry Award, expect many readers--and deservedly so. BOMC alternate.-- Peter Bricklebank, City Coll., CUNY
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780671701116
  • Publisher: Washington Square Press
  • Publication date: 11/28/1990
  • Pages: 240

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