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Kafka Was the Rage: A Greenwich Village Memoir [Kindle Edition]

Anatole Broyard
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $15.00
Kindle Price: $9.99
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Sold by: Random House LLC

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Book Description

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.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

Editorial Reviews

From 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 I read 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. -- Copyright ©1993, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.


“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

From the Trade Paperback edition.

Product Details

  • File Size: 1092 KB
  • Print Length: 161 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0679781269
  • Publisher: Vintage; Reprint edition (December 1, 2010)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004CFAWA2
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #212,086 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A delightful memoir of post-war Greenwich Village October 28, 2001
One brilliantly sunny day in July, I decided to head out to the lake to bask in the sun and read. Unforuntately, I realized halfway there that I hadn't bought anything to read. So, I trotted over to my local used bookstore and began browsing their recent acquisition table. This little volume immediately gained my attention. It looked like fun, it looked like it would be a quick read, and it was short enough that it wouldn't keep me from continuing in any of the other books that I was already reading. So, off to the lake with this book in hand I went.
KAFKA WAS THE RAGE was quite a nifty little read. I had read a fair amount about the Beats at one point, so this had some of the same post-WW II Manhattan atmosphere, but that was set more in the area of Columbia University, so this shifted the scene further south. There is no real story to tell here. Broyard merely recounts in a more or less anecdotal form a number of events and individuals from a particular moment in time. He has a gift for summoning up particular moments in vivid detail, and a talent for the brilliant line. An example of the former is his recounting of an adventure in which he took Delmore Schwartz, Clement Greenberg, and Dwight MacDonald to a Spanish Harlem nightclub. Another is his description of his art professor Meyer Schapiro.
Some great lines:
"I thought that being a Communist was a penalty you had to pay for being interested in politics."
[on Dylan Thomas] "To him, an American party was like being in a bad pub with the wrong people."
[on Delmore Schwartz] "Like Samuel Johnson, whom he resembled in many ways, Delmore was not interested in prospects, views, or landscape. He had looked at the city when he was young, and saw no need to do it again.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wide-eyed in Greenwich Village in 1947 February 11, 2000
In 1947, Anatole Broyard was a 25 year old veteran who chose to live in Greenwich Village rather than return to his parents home in Brooklyn after the war. His family was New Orleans French and he was raised a Catholic. The Village at that time represented freedom and new ways of thinking. It was a world of artists and writers. A world of intellectual and sexual freedom. A world where the latest in psychological theory was being taught at the New School by leaders in the field. There was peace and prosperity and a bright new world for the young.
Especially since it was written in 1989, when Broyard was a writer with ripened talent, it is especially interesting. Broyard looks back at himself and the world as it existed then with a mature perspective and a sense of humor that kept me giggling as I turned the pages. His is not the voice of a disaffected beat generation; it is the voice of a wide-eyed young man coming of age at a time when anything seemed possible. He writes about abstract art, jazz, going to dance clubs in Spanish Harlem, meeting H.W. Auden and a funny incident with the wife of Dylan Thomas. There's a lot about sex and his various girlfriends. And apartments with bathtubs in the kitchen and a toilet in the hall. It is a history of New York as I've never quite seen it before.
At 147 pages, this book seems much too short and I understand from the postscript that he became ill before he had a change to finish it. Too bad. Because I thoroughly enjoyed it. And am so glad that his wife decided to publish it now. I love the writing. It's simple prose with lots of good thinking behind it. A pure delight to read.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Exploring art and sex in post-war New York April 2, 2001
The time for intellectuals and pseudo-intellectuals to thrive was definitely in the late 1940's when barriers were falling and culture and mindscape were being reinvented by abstract painters, psychoanalysis, and changing attitudes about sexual freedom. Anatole Broyard writes about New York in 1947 from his perspective, as a World War II veteran coming home to new ideas and strange people. His vision is romantic and nostalgic, but he also recognizes the limitations of these times and his own feeling of being an outsider among outsiders. Being so immersed in the intellectual and sexual experiences of life, he longs for a more personal, emotional bond which he fails to find. Though Broyard could not finish the book before his death, it is still very much a worthwhile read if you love books, sex, and the excitement of cities.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars One Man's Account March 16, 2002
If you're expecting an overview of the 1940s Greenwich Village scene, adjust your expectations. This is for the most part an account of Anatole Broyard's life, as he lived in Greenwich Village in the 1940s. The focus is on Broyard's concerns of the time and his particular perceptions. It is a distinct difference.
That acknowledged, I'd like to say that I recommend the book anyway. Broyard's account is valuable for its loving criticism of the 1940s art world, for its honest recognition of the stupidity of youth, and for its meandering remembrances, repleat with similes and earnest attempts to find meaning in the past. The book is valuable because of its examination of life, an examination that is all the more interesting for the time period and the location of the subject.
I said that Broyard's account was more an account of his own life than of the times. But it is also an opinion of mine that one life tells a lot about a time period. The setting for the memoir is New York just after WWII--the whole city is glad to be alive and glad to be carefree for the first time since the beginning of the war. And Broyard's account of himself and others in the period is fascinating for that reason, for the way this made people act. Need another reason? Broyard's memoir is peppered with chance meetings with prestigious artists and writers of the time. He exposes the mentality they all lived with--the way they lived with art the way other young people live with football or pop music. He exposes the advantages and disadvantages that that presented. Most of all, he exposes your youth--your own youthful pretensions, and stupidity, and wisdom. It's the account you would write if you had the time... And the insight.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A must
Paints the scene of The Village in the 40s. I feel as though I walked along with him a bit.
Published 1 month ago by amy farrell
5.0 out of 5 stars great read
Very fast shipping great price
Published 5 months ago by ron
3.0 out of 5 stars but we don't sit around intellectualizing the subject like they did in...
This is not a memoir about Greenwich Village but a discussion about sex, which was a popular discussion among intellectuals in the 1940s and 1950s. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Stewart Nusbaumer
5.0 out of 5 stars Evocative, imaginative
Broyard's prose is delightful and his turns of phrase unexpected and imaginative. Many are worth remembering or quoting. Read more
Published 9 months ago by John D
5.0 out of 5 stars Pensive!
After the first few pages I got the impression that someone sophisticated enough to be the main book reviewer for the NY Times couldn't be as ordinary as Broyard paints himself. Read more
Published 10 months ago by Andrew Billek
3.0 out of 5 stars Pleasant Quick Read
Good enough for what it is, but nothing I would consider reading a second time.

A very quick read that provides insights into post-WWII NYC and Greenwich Village in... Read more
Published 12 months ago by Richard M. Sola
5.0 out of 5 stars An Engaging Walk in the Village
A Beautifully written and engaging chronicle of the early Greenwich years. Such richly developed characters make the scene come alive.
Published 21 months ago by Kristen Anderson
3.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining Memoir of Life in Post-WWII Greenwich Village
I was interested in this book primarily as a source of background material supplemental my reading of Willam Gaddis' The Recognitions. Read more
Published 23 months ago by Pfritz
4.0 out of 5 stars Adventure Back to the Village
Having known Anatole for a time before he became ill, reading this book was like visiting with an old friend. Read more
Published on February 1, 2013 by goldens
3.0 out of 5 stars Well...
Well, let's say it is not uninteresting in the sense that it gives one an idea of Bohemia in Greenwich Village in the late forties. Read more
Published on October 28, 2012 by Blazar
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