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Kafka Was the Rage: A Greenwich Village Memoir Paperback – June 24, 1997
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From Kirkus Reviews
“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
Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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.
"The energy of unspent desire, of looking forward to sex, was an immense current running through American life ... It was fueled by failures, as well as by successes. The force of it would have been enough to send a million rockets to the moon ..."
I know that Broyard was an important NYTimes critic and a recognized writer, so I am probably being enormously arrogant in mentioning the shortcomings of this book, but I don't mean to be. I'm just quite certain that it would have been much better had he had more time to spend on it - to "finish" it. I feel sad that he was not allowed that time. - Tim Bazzett, author of Soldier Boy: At Play in the ASA
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I just finished a very excellent book, "Kafka Was the Rage" by Anatole Broyard. It was from a list of 100 books that David Bowie said were his favorites. Read morePublished 5 months ago by J. Cosby
Broyard was a complicated guy; he was of Louisiana Creole extraction, but he was comfortable all his life passing as white. Read morePublished 9 months ago by Peter Baklava
I have a friend who was a beatnik in NYC and have been curious about that time. This bok, to me, describes the foundations of the beat culture, with even a few hints about the... Read morePublished 9 months ago by Mentalfloss1
I received this one as a gift. What a delightful read this is! How I wish Broyard had written a few more memoirs like this one! Read morePublished 10 months ago by Helen B.
Beautifully written account of the times with humor and appreciation for having been there then.Published 10 months ago by Judith N. Alger
This book was published by Alexandra Broyard after her husband the literary critic Anatole Broyard's death. It is an autobiographical essay that he did not complete. Read morePublished 15 months ago by Shalom Freedman
For a native New Yorker and former Greenwich Resident and frequent this was a joy to read.Published 15 months ago by Lady Bird
I have picked up this book many times with out reading it but finally now I've read it . It resonates with me because I too went to the new school . Read morePublished 16 months ago by Sarah