Kafka Was the Rage: A Greenwich Village Memoir

Kafka Was the Rage: A Greenwich Village Memoir

5.0 4
by Anatole Broyard
     
 

View All Available Formats & Editions

What Hemingway's A Moveable Feast did for Paris in the 1920s, this charming yet undeceivable memoir does for Greenwich Village in the late 1940s. In 1946, Anatole Broyard was a dapper, earnest, fledgling avant-gardist, intoxicated by books, sex, and the neighborhood that offered both in such abundance. Stylish written, mercurially witty, imbued with insights that are

Overview

What Hemingway's A Moveable Feast did for Paris in the 1920s, this charming yet undeceivable memoir does for Greenwich Village in the late 1940s. In 1946, Anatole Broyard was a dapper, earnest, fledgling avant-gardist, intoxicated by books, sex, and the neighborhood that offered both in such abundance. Stylish written, mercurially witty, imbued with insights that are both affectionate and astringent, this memoir offers an indelible portrait of a lost bohemia.

Editorial Reviews

Roland Wulbert
Carson McCullers, unknown in Greenwich Village just after World War II, discovered her next-door neighbor was W. H. Auden. At about the same time, the girlfriend of the just demobilized, not yet published Anatole Broyard ran, literally, into and bowled off his feet a gentleman who turned out to be . . . W. H. Auden. In the Village in those halcyon days, everyone in public places--every taxi driver, every bagel concessionaire, every cop on the beat--who wasn't Anais Nin was W. H. Auden. Broyard's new community was as replete with literary heavy hitters as, say, Yale's department of English is today, but the Village's idols and role models were accessible. To anybody--anybody pure of soul, at any rate--"Nineteen forty-six," Broyard recalls without hyperbole, "was a good time--perhaps the best time in the twentieth century." Too bad time isn't space. With airfares cheap as they are now--and who would buy round trip?--we could all be there within one day. But until time-to-space software is developed, Broyard's memoir, a tantalizingly concise page-turner, is as good as any substitute that might be available.
Kirkus Reviews
Brilliant, funny, penetrating observations on life and culture in N.Y.C. after WW II from critic Broyard, who died of cancer in 1990 (Intoxicated by My Illness, 1992). "Nineteen forty-six was a good time—perhaps the best time—in the twentieth century," writes Broyard, and the reader wishes that the critic were still here to write a dozen more books just like this wonderful one to explain further exactly what he means. Broyard was 26 the year after the war, and his entree to then housing-scarce Greenwich Village took the form of moving in with the difficult and challenging Sheri Donatti, enigmatic abstract painter, wearer of no underpants, and proteg‚e of Ana‹s Nin. Comedy both ribald and poignant follows as Broyard tells the tale of his brief life with Sheri—including, along the way, sketches of his meetings with the likes of W.H. Auden (whom Sheri bumps into—literally), Erich Fromm, Meyer Schapiro, Delmore Schwartz and others, including Nin herself ("Her lipstick was precise, her eyebrows shaved off and penciled in, giving the impression," remarks Broyard, "that she had written her own face"). A break with Sheri is inevitable but, by the time it comes, the reader knows how thoroughly she emblemized the complicated ironies (and dead-ends) of postwar criticism and art—and how Broyard was to manage going on afterward in his own way. Again and again, his independence and right judgment reveal themselves in a mind that, in a Whitmanesque way, passionately insists on a genuine integration of life and art: "I wanted to be an intellectual, too, to see life from a great height, yet I didn't want to give up my sense of connection, my intimacy with things. When Iread a book, I always kept one eye on the world, like someone watching the clock." Vital criticism that—in these woebegone days especially—is wondrously to be valued.

From the Publisher
 
“A memoir of a sensualist… Sentence by sentence, it’s as beautifully precise as any contemporary American work I know.”- Pauline Kael
 
“If you’ve ever been young, ever lived in or wanted to live in Greenwich Village, ever loved books or sex or both, you’ll savor this memoir.”- Detroit Free Press
 
“Full of Broyard’s wit, compassion and rich insight… His mind, his aesthetic, his view of the world, shimmer brightly in this memoir.”- Chicago Tribune
 
“Seductive, ardently written…a valentine with barbs.”- Washington Post Book World

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780517596180
Publisher:
Crown Publishing Group
Publication date:
10/12/1993
Edition description:
1st ed
Pages:
149

Meet the Author

Anatole Broyard was a book critic, columnist, and editor for The New York Times for eighteen years.  He is the author of the critically acclaimed Intoxicated by My Illness (Clarkson Potter, 1992).  He died in 1990 in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >

Kafka Was the Rage: A Greenwich Village Memoir 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I couldn't stop reading this book. Everything about it pulled me in, and it didn't leave my hands for the day and a half it took me to read it. I atually read it for one of my classes, and it has been one of the best reads I've had! The language, images, dialogue, etc. were truly amazing. When I got done, I wished there were about another 200 pages more!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is the kind of book that gets passed from reader to reader with exhortations of 'You have GOT to read this....' It's the kind of book that develops acolytes--like 'Leaves of Grass' or WALDEN, it offers a passionate yet clear-headed design for living. Broyard was a literary sensualist, who saw the people in his life as characters out of a rich and teeming novel. He came to New York in the 1940s with peeled eyes, drinking it all in. He bought a bookshop, studied psychology and jazz and art, slept with a whole lot of women, and ate, drank and breathed literature. Broyard's sensibility is right on the surface--he doesn't pretend to be 'objective.' The people he knew are as he remembers them (40 years later), and his descriptions of them are dazzling. You want to meet these people and live this life. There isn't a single stale image or cliched passage. Every observation feels freshly thought-out. At the end I felt a sense of loss--not just for a vanished way of New York life, or because the book was cut short by Broyard's illness and untimely death, but because I was reluctant to leave the writer's mind.
Guest More than 1 year ago
To read your soul written by another writer is amazing to say the least. I enjoy Anatole, this is an amazing book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If you love the Village and if you love New York City, this book will be a treasure.