Delighted to welcome a new author to the shelves of the Cafe and Bookstore today. Fascinating New Yorkers: Power Freaks, Mobsters, Liberated Women, Creators, Queers and Crazies by Clifford Browder.
About Fascinating New Yorkers
A prostitute’s daughter who got to know two ex-kings and a future emperor; a cardinal archbishop known in certain circles as “Franny”; a serial killer who terrorized the city; a pioneer in female erotica who had two husbands and kept a “lie box” to keep her two lives straight – they’re all here in Clifford Browder’s collection of posts from his blog, people who, some remembered today and some forgotten, fulfilled themselves richly or horrendously in the wild and crazy city of New York. Some of these people Browder knew or encountered briefly, and some he got to know through their works. He relates surprising things about J.P. Morgan and his nose, Andy Warhol’s sex life, Nicky (Mr. Untouchable) Barnes, and Polly Adler, Queen of Tarts. Getting to know these New Yorkers, readers will be shocked or angered, puzzled or amused, but never bored.
One of the reviews for the book
The figures in Cliff Browder’s Fascinating New Yorkers: Power Freaks, Mobsters, Liberated Women, Creators, Queers and Crazies are as pulsing with energy and as varied as the city itself. Drawn from Browder’s engaging blog, No Place for Normal, these lively sketches of everyone from David Berkowitz to Edna St. Vincent Millay are informed not only by Browder’s assiduous research but by his rich personal experience and perspective.
These little biographies are studies in concision. His depiction of Robert Moses is a masterful distillation of Robert Caro’s wonderful but massive biography The Power Broker. Yet in each of these chapters he incorporates his own personal perspectives and experiences that give these commentaries a deeply human groundedness. Then there’s the writing. His sketches have a sharpness reminiscent of Dos Passos (if anyone reads him anymore). He describes Thomas Dewey “as devoid of charm as a turnip” and demonstrates Boss Tweed’s nimbleness with a single crafty sentence: “When he hobnobbed at the upper end of the social scale, his speech was trimmed and neat; toward the lower end it grew weedy with ain’ts.”
Browder separates his New Yorkers into six categories: Dark Desires, Men of Power, Remarkable Women, Creators, Celebrities, and Bohemia. Yet it is amazing how many of these figures cross boundaries and encounter each other in their rich and turbulent lives. Plus, typical of the city’s international quality, these characters often bound in and out of New York’s boundaries (Helena Rubenstein comes by way of Poland, Australia, and Paris). Ultimately, these New Yorkers transform the ever dynamic city and often introduce new directions in society. “Both Walter Winchell and Sherman Billingsley wielded a new kind of power … Winchell’s power based on fear; Billingsley’s, on exclusiveness, on getting people to want, and want desperately, what he had to offer.”
The book is filled with amusing nuggets of battles, whether they be between Joan Crawford and Gloria Swanson over long-held Hollywood jealousies or between the Catholic dioceses running Peoria and New York over Bishop Fulton Sheen’s remains. One of my favorite elements of Fascinating New Yorkers is Browder’s commitment to ending each story as close to present day as possible. Anaïs Nin may have died in 1977 but through Browder’s research and subsequent encounters with her work the reader observes how his perceptions evolve.
The tale of narcissist Taylor Mead (oh, these pages collect into quite the gallery of narcissists) is a fitting summary to this volume: it is another fascinating story, shot through with Browder’s hard-earned wisdom – a wisdom marked by sensitivity, awareness, and rich experiences. Like Browder’s previous book, No Place for Normal: New York, this book manages to be both tremendously revealing and fun. I deeply enjoyed Fascinating New Yorkers.
Read the reviews and buy the book: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07DQRDYPC
A selection of other books by Clifford Browder
Read the reviews and discover all Clifford Browder’s books: https://www.amazon.com/Clifford-Browder/e/B001HOP166
and on Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Clifford-Browder/e/B001HOP166
Read more reviews and follow Clifford on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/296927.Clifford_Browder
About Clifford Browder
Clifford Browder is a writer living in New York. He has published two biographies, a critical study, and three novels in his Metropolis series of historical fiction set in nineteenth-century New York: The Pleasuring of Men (Gival Press, 2011), Bill Hope: His Story (Anaphora Literary Press, 2017); and Dark Knowledge (Anaphora Literary Press, 2018).
His blog, Nø Place for Normal: New York, is about anything and everything New York. His nonfiction title No Place for Normal: New York / Stories from the Most Exciting City in the World (Mill City Press, 2015) is a collection of posts from his blog that won first place in the Travel category of the 2015-2016 Reader Views Literary Awards; the Tenth Annual National Indie Excellence Award for Regional Non-Fiction; and Honorable Mention in the Culture category of the Eric Hoffer Book Awards for 2016. Another collection of posts from his blog, Fascinating New Yorkers: Power Freaks, Mobsters, Liberated Women, Creators, Queers and Crazies is being published by Black Rose Writing in 2018. His poetry has appeared in various journals online and in print.
Browder is fond of slime molds, never kills spiders, and eats garlic to fend off vampires. (So far it seems to be working.) Recently he learned the Charleston; geezers rock.
Connect to Clifford
Thank you for dropping in and it would be great if you could share Clifford’s books around the usual haunts.. thanks Sally