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After Claude (New York Review Books Classics) Paperback – November 9, 2010

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Product Details

  • Series: New York Review Books Classics
  • Paperback: 232 pages
  • Publisher: NYRB Classics (November 9, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1590173635
  • ISBN-13: 978-1590173633
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.1 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #886,058 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"Like our best women writers (Joan Didion, Joyce Carol Oates), Owens is not afraid to take risks...Owens is a highly intelligent writer and a fiendishly sardonic one--to the extent that her outrageous wit rescues her freaky Jewish anti-heroine from becoming a pain in the Asphalt Jungle. On every page wisecracks explode like anti-personnel mines. We laugh, nervously perhaps, but often."  —Newsweek

“One of the earliest portraits of the female antihero, a sort of distaff Notes From Underground. It was very funny” —Anatole Broyard, The New York Times

“A very funny book by a exhilarating talent.” —The New York Times

“…like watching a woman depilate with an acetylene touch.” —Newsweek

“Good enough to have convulsed the late Oscar Levant, barbed, bitchy and hilariously sour.” —Kenneth Tynan

“Spiky with mockery, carbon steel wit and mature observation.” —Village Voice

“Owens, under the name of Harriet Daimler, was a prominent Parisian pornographer for Olympia Press…[who] as 'Harriet Daimler', became one of Girodias's most celebrated pornographers, someone who struggled 'against her impossible tendency to write more explicitly than the courts will tolerate’” —Bloomsbury Magazine

“To characterize After Claude as the inevitable lightly veiled autobiography of a ‘first’ novel is to deny Ms. Owens her due both as a  savagely accurate reporter of the current Greenwich Village-Chelsea Hotel scene, and as a gallow humorist of major order...After said, with biting verve and accuracy for New York that Mary McCarthy and her reliance on ‘facts’ would well envy.” —Eleanor Rackow Widmer, Arts and Society

"Hilariously addictive, prickly pear of a read." —Skakespeare & Co Booksellers blog

After Claude is a very funny book saved from off-putting vulgarity by an exhilarating talent and intelligence...” —Leonard Michaels, The New York Times Book Review

“Miss Owens has created a new kind of monster for your compassion. And isn't that, after all, one of the classical functions of contemporary fiction?” —Anatole Broyard, The New York Times

"Novels like Fear of Flying and After Claude created a fresh voice that made us want to laugh out loud, pass the book around, read funny bits to our friends."  —Morris Dickstein, The New York Times

“Harriet tells her story like a female Lenny Bruce…while I was reading…I was laughing too hard to see the page.” —John Lahr, Women’s Wear Daily

About the Author


Iris Owens (née Klein) (?–2008) was born and raised in New York City, the daughter of a professional gambler. She attended Barnard College, was briefly married, and then moved to Paris, where she fell in with Alexander Trocchi, the editor of the legendary avant-garde journal Merlin and a notorious heroin addict, and supported herself by producing pornography (under the name of Harriet Daimler) for Maurice Girodias’s Olympia Press. Back in the United States, Owens wroteAfter Claude, which came out in 1973. A second novel, Hope Diamond Refuses, loosely based on her marriage to an Iranian prince, was published in 1984.

Emily Prager is a novelist, a Literary Lion of the New York Public Library, and the winner of the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism 2000 Online Journalism Award for Commentary. She is at work on a book of essays for Random House, entitled Secrets of Shanghai.


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Customer Reviews

3.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Leonard Fleisig TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on February 5, 2011
Format: Paperback
Bette Davis (as Margo Channing).

Harriet, the protagonist of Iris Owens's "After Claude", may be one of the most annoying literary figures you will run into. Calling her toxic, totally self-absorbed and completely free of any self-reflection or sense of irony would be an understatement. Harriet's problematic, irksome personality is revealed early on in the book and I think this will leave a reader with two options: one will either put down the book after the first chapter, never to pick it up again; or, will be totally entranced by this walking train wreck of a person and turn every page to see just what mishegosh will come pouring from Harriet's lips next. Count me among the latter.

Set in New York City in the early 1970s, the story opens with Harriet and her soon to be ex-boyfriend Claude (known to her as Claude the Rat) leaving an art-house cinema on the Upper West Side. The `bumpy ride' starts immediately and Harriet is told by Claude she will have to move out of his Greenwich Village apartment. In the week that follows we learn how Harriet came to live with Claude, why she was tossed out of an apartment by her last roommate, Rhoda-Regina, and see her wind up in a shabby room at the Chelsea Hotel (long a haven for New York's bohemian crowd including Bob Dylan, Allen Ginsberg, and Arthur C Clarke who wrote 2001 A Space Odyssey while staying at the hotel). The story concludes with a bizarre encounter with of group of people at The Chelsea who may have been Harriet's match in terms of other-worldliness.

"After Claude" is not a book in which it is the story or plot that gives the pleasure but, rather, Iris Owens' ability to tell Harriet's story in a pretty compelling way.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By andrea chrisman on October 10, 2011
Format: Paperback
While _After Claude_ definitely caught me off guard, So far the unfair reviews are...well. Unfair. While some of the compliments are silly. Yes, this book had me rolling on the floor laughing because of Harriet's cruel humor. However, that is exactly what lulled me into a false sense of her potentially growing into a feminist hero. It turns out that she doesn't really grow at all. She is simply revealed for what she is and loses the only thing that gives her character.
Come to this novella with a wide degree of openness, but also realize that it is *not* timeless. It is full of vulgarities that might be offensive, and situations that seem utterly unlike anything you might consider. If you have delicate sensibilities, and believe that vampires should sparkle, this is not a book for you.

Putting aside the aspects of the text which place it in a burgeoning feminist movement, right after the free love wave and the loss of too many in Vietnam, one can start to see the parts of the novel that are interesting.
Iris Owens has a gift for sardonic wit. But beyond that, she creates a character you despise right down to her bones. Claude is actually not a bad guy. But Harriet is looking for a classic husband/wife relationship while throwing countless insults at a man (she claims to "love") who doesn't want the same. She regards herself as independent, worldly, gracious, and fierce, but she is actually hollow, base, unpleasant and vacuous, becoming an easy target for a charismatic cult leader who helps her sexual awakening. Her external strength that forms the sharp rapier-like comments and thoughts and feelings she has towards others hide her ignorance to nearly no one. In other words, she is a classic feminist anti-hero.
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By Scq2 on February 17, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This first person narrative with a very unreliable narrator is a great read, funny and sad. I wish the author had written more.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By M. Sweeney on July 5, 2012
Format: Paperback
A really strange book, uncomfortable at times - more of a 2.5 for me than a 3, but it's going to vary a lot for other readers depending on personal tastes.

The protagonist is an extremely smart young woman in NYC who has both a compelling need to verbally/mentally skewer everyone and everything around her yet clings desperately to the resulting shards of shattered friendship and love affairs. If you can ignore the painful arc of self-sabotage through the story, Harriet's piercing descriptions of all she encounters hit the simultaneous tones of truth, mean-spiritedness, and hilarity.

If it sounds as if this review is all over the place, trust me, this book is all over the map. Even though I didn't really enjoy it that much, at the end, I had to wonder: what has Harriet gotten herself into now...

But if you like this kind of thing, this is the kind of thing you'll like. Try the Kindle sample on your PC or other device for a taste test.
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