Dawn Powell has often been overlooked since her death at 67 in 1965, but her brilliant novels, such as Angels On Toast
, A Time to Be Born
and The Wicked Pavilion
are returning to print. And to accompany her rediscovery, The Diaries of Dawn Powell: 1931-1965
presents a wondrous evocation of the writing life. More than mere diaries, Powell's journals are at times a workbook presenting many fully-formed narratives. There are thoughtful pieces about why she feels compelled to write and gripes about how writers live. And scattered throughout are witty and gossipy essays about living in literary New York and socializing and working with such characters as Edmund Wilson
, John Dos Passos
, her editor Max Perkins
, and the woman to whom she was often unfairly compared,Dorothy Parker
From Publishers Weekly
A prolific novelist, short-story writer and playwright from the 1930s through the '50s, Powell, who was forgotten for 25 years after her death, is now, with the republication of her best work, and praise from Gore Vidal and John Updike, becoming a name to be reckoned with again. Born in Ohio in 1897, she moved to New York City at age 21 and lived at the heart of its bohemian and literary life until she died of cancer in 1965. It was a hard life: her only son was mentally unstable and frequently institutionalized; her husband was a congenial but hard-drinking wastrel who seemed to understand nothing of Powell's talent and ambition; her health was often fragile; and money was nearly always tight. Her diaries, sometimes mere jottings, on occasion carefully crafted anecdotes, apothegms and character sketches, reflect a person capable of remarkable observation, steadfastness, courage?and much wit. Considering that she spent time with the likes of John Dos Passos, Edmund Wilson and Ernest Hemingway, however, there is comparatively lean pickings for literary gossips; and Powell's lack of interest in external events is startling: no mention of Pearl Harbor, the atom bombs, JFK's assassination. What is most winning here?despite the overgenerous, sometimes wearing selection of mundane entries by Page, music critic for the Washington Post?is the sense of a powerful, clear-sighted personality asserting an unsentimental vision despite myriad distractions and obstacles.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.