Twentieth-Century Boy

Duncan Hannah. Knopf, $28.95 (480p) ISBN 978-1-5247-3339-1
Midway through this exuberant chronicle of his life in New York City in the 1970s, the author, who is now a distinguished painter, notes, “I’m living faster than I can write.” Composed from journals that Hannah kept between 1970 and 1981, the book reads like a modern Rake’s Progress, beginning with Hannah’s years at Bard College and following his move to Manhattan in 1973. Hannah writes candidly about his drug- and drink-fueled adventures, and he captures the kaleidoscopic swirl of the avant-garde art scene into which he immediately immersed himself. He hung out with Patti Smith, glam rockers, punk musicians, and members of Warhol’s Factory, and he writes about it all with a youthful wistfulness, observing, “I get the feeling from this society that New York takes care of its own, that all these eccentric characters have found a niche no other city would have provided for them.” He punctuates each journal with lists of books to read, movies to see, and music to hear that are as much a time capsule of the era as the celebrities, clubs, and concerts whose names he drops throughout. This is a more of a chronicle of N.Y.C.’s art scene in an exciting period than an introspective coming-of-age story. Still, it’s entertaining; readers will likely agree with Hannah’s assessment that “I was in the right place, at the right time, at the right age.” (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 12/18/2017
Release date: 03/13/2018
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 496 pages - 978-1-5247-1122-1
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Audio book sample courtesy of Penguin Random House Audio
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