From the award-winning author of Minor Characters comes a haunting novel about the persistence of love and the sustaining and destabilizing power of memories In the vibrant downtown Manhattan art world of the 1960s, where men and women collide in "lucky and unlucky convergences" a series of love affairs has left Joanna Gold, a young photographer, feeling numbed. Then, at yet another party, a painter named Tom Murphy walks up to her. Why do you hang back? he asks. Rather than another brief collision, their relationship is the profound and ecstatic love each had longed to find. But it's undermined by Tom's harrowing past-his fatherless childhood, his wartime experiences, and most of all, the loss of the two children he left behind in Florida, along with the powerful red, white, and black paintings he will never set eyes on again. Tom, both tender and volatile, draws Joanna into the unwinnable struggle against the forces that drive him toward death. Once again, Joyce Johnson brings to life a mythic bohemian world where art is everything and life is as full of intensity and risk as the bold sweep of a painter's brush across a canvas. A New York Times Notable Book Excerpted in The New Yorker and Harper's Magazine
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Joyce Johnson was born in 1935 in New York City, the setting for all her fiction: Come and Join the Dance, recognized as the first Beat novel by a woman writer, Bad Connections, and In the Night Café. She is best known for her memoir Minor Characters, which won the National Book Critics Circle Award in 1983 and dealt with coming of age in the 1950s and with her involvement with Jack Kerouac. She has published two other Beat-related books: Door Wide Open: A Beat Love Affair in Letters, and The Voice Is All: The Lonely Victory of Jack Kerouac. She has also written a second memoir, Missing Men, and the nonfiction title What Lisa Knew: The Truths and Lies of the Steinberg Case.Review:
“In The Night Café is heartbreaking and exhilarating at once. Joyce Johnson has written a memorable love story.” —Hilma Wolitzer
“Almost heartbreakingly evocative, uncommon deftness and restraint. . . . Johnson has a way of characterizing people with a single stroke, allowing us to color in the rest.” —Anne Tyler, Chicago Tribune
“An intense, strong love story, direct and moving . . . An exhilarating experience.” —The Washington Post Book World
“A splendid piece of work, and I read it with great pleasure. The voice of the narrator is so authentic, and her story is told with admirable integrity, restraint, and poignancy.” —Lynne Sharon Schwartz
“The book sails on its first-person narrator: a fiercely believable, testifying voice that is pungent, close to the bone, stinging with candor. Lyrical atmospheric details aside, the poetry of this novel is in its quick psychological insights and the ability to make us shudder and feel along with it.” —Philip Lopate, The New York Times Book Review
“No one writes about the Bohemian New York art and literary scene of the late 1950s and early ’60s with more affectionate and rueful insight than Johnson . . . Very moving.” —Publishers Weekly
“Novelist and Kerouac-memoirist Johnson . . . hits her stride with this bittersweet novel of love and death on the Lower East Side . . . Haunting and evocative.” —Kirkus Reviews
“Lower Manhattan in the days when Idlewild was Idlewild and Kennedy had not been shot seems like a funky-glamorous Parisian-bohemian Camelot and Joyce Johnson is its chronicler. First in her extraordinary memoir . . . Minor Characters, and now in this incandescent novel.” —Phyllis Rose
“As happens now and then, one novel so totally captured my imagination that I keep going back to it. . . . It’s a story of heartbreak, where the heart breaks slowly, a little at a time. Which makes In the Night Café an exquisitely painful—and profoundly moving—novel to read.” —Joyce Maynard, Mademoiselle
“There is a touch here of Jean Rhys and Marguerite Duras . . . but with none of the self-pity of the former or the intellectual dryness of the latter. Johnson keeps an everyday tone in the middle of deep waters. To do so whilst maintaining her balance requires a constant and remarkable artistry.” —The Independent
“The intensity of Joyce Johnson’s imagination lies in the way she looks at the world, in the daring openness she bring to her place and time and the people around her.” —Seven Days
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Book Description FLAMINGO, 1990. Paperback. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # 6542824