Anything Goes

Gallagher, Author, Brian Gallagher, Author Crown Publishers $18.95 (0p) ISBN 978-0-8129-1215-9
One has to dig for Gallagher's story: ""The jazz-age adventures of Neysa McMein and her extravagant circle of friends.'' The text's circumlocutions are a hindrance and so is the author's condescending air toward the witty company who made famous the Round Table at New York's Algonquin Hotel in the 1920s. Margaret McMein (1888-1949) left her prosaic Quincy, Ill., hometown as a young woman and became a noted magazine illustrator in Manhattan. There are repetitious details on her background and life after she adopted the tonier name Neysa. A beauty, she was beloved by many of the men who crowded her salon daily: Alex Woolcott, Harpo Marx, Noel Coward, Jascha Heifitz, etc. Helen Hayes, as well as other friends quoted here, agrees that Neysa was popular with women as well, but some were jealous. Although she and her husband Jack Baragwanath had other love affairs, they remained married from 1923 until her death at age 61. Neysa McMein, free spirit, deserves a more appreciative book; so do her friends. Gallagher teaches at the City University of New York. Photos not seen by PW. (November)
Reviewed on: 09/30/1987
Release date: 10/01/1987
Genre: Nonfiction
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