Life Is Painful, Nasty & Short-- In My Case It Has Only Been Painful and Nasty: Djuna Barnes, 1978-1981: An Informal Memoir

Hank O'Neal, Author Paragon House Publishers $19.95 (233p) ISBN 978-1-55778-394-3
Literary recluse Djuna Barnes (1892-1982) had spent 40 years cloistered in a Greenwich Village garret when O'Neal, a record producer, first dropped by in 1978. A mutual acquaintance, photographer Berenice Abbott, had asked him to befriend the alienated, eccentric novelist-playwright-artist. O'Neal attended Barnes for three years, finding her by turns complex, intriguing and repulsive. She was full of engrossing memories; she seethed with homophobia (though bisexual herself), racism and simple meanness. She also struggled with writer's block, a condition made sadder by the promise evident in the snippets of poetry she managed to write. Unfortunately, O'Neal's ``informal memoir'' is disorganized and inconclusive, providing just a few biographical tidbits and a smidgen of psychological speculation. Only confirmed Barnes enthusiasts are likely to be interested. Photos. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1990
Release date: 01/01/1990
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