New York in the '50s
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The rhythms of jazz and beat poetry punctuate this sweeping, firsthand account of New York City’s 1950s literary scene from the Bowery to Spanish Harlem
National bestselling author Dan Wakefield first came to New York City in 1952 with the intention of receiving a proper literary education on the ivied campus of Columbia University. An equally enlightening experience, he quickly found, was hiding in the smoky bars and cafés of Greenwich Village frequented by the most talented writers of the fifties, including James Baldwin, Joan Didion, and Allen Ginsberg. Wakefield recounts drinking at the White Horse Tavern, Dylan Thomas’s Village haunt, as well as the offices of Esquire and the Nation, capturing rare, intimate moments of spirited camaraderie between some of the most influential artists of their generation.
Like Hemingway’s recollections of 1920s Paris in A Moveable Feast, New York in the ’50s showcases a city in its artistic heyday, replete with Wakefield’s remembrances of brushing shoulders with literary icons such as Jack Kerouac and Norman Mailer, and watching Thelonious Monk play jazz at the Five Spot Café. Wakefield’s experience as a journalist and chronicler of Americana allows him to capture the subtleties of a decade of unparalleled artistic expression.