The Bohemians

The Bohemians

Mark Twain and the San Francisco Writers Who Reinvented American Literature

Format
ePub
Price
$14.99
 
Additional Formats
  • ePub
  • ISBN 9780698151628
  • 352 Pages
  • Penguin Press
  • Adult

Overview

An extraordinary portrait of a fast-changing America—and the Western writers who gave voice to its emerging identity

At once an intimate portrait of an unforgettable group of writers and a history of a cultural revolution in America, The Bohemians reveals how a brief moment on the far western frontier changed our culture forever. Beginning with Mark Twain’s arrival in San Francisco in 1863, this group biography introduces readers to the other young eccentric writers seeking to create a new American voice at the country’s edge—literary golden boy Bret Harte; struggling gay poet Charles Warren Stoddard; and beautiful, haunted Ina Coolbrith, poet and protector of the group. Ben Tarnoff’s elegant, atmospheric history reveals how these four pioneering writers helped spread the Bohemian movement throughout the world, transforming American literature along the way.
The Bohemians

The Bohemians

Ben Tarnoff

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Praise

San Francisco Chronicle:
“Tarnoff breathes fresh life into his narrative with vivid details from the archives… giving us a rich portrait of a lost world overflowing with new wealth and new talent… [A] stylish and fast-paced literary history.” 

Chicago Tribune:
“Tarnoff powerfully evokes the western landscapes, local cultures and youthful friendships that helped shape Twain. He has a talent for selecting details that animate the past.”

The Wall Street Journal:
“In 1869, the Transcontinental Railroad joined the country together and tore San Francisco apart. That’s the conclusion afforded by two fine books: The Bohemians: Mark Twain and the San Francisco Writers Who Reinvented American Literature, Ben Tarnoff’s nonfiction chronicle of the literary Bay Area in the 1860s and Emma Donoghue’s historical novel of the 1870s, Frog Music. Rich hauls of historical research, deeply excavated but lightly borne, distinguishes both.”

Boston Globe:
“Adeptly wrapping a wonderful story around these young writers; Tarnoff glides smoothly along….[A] delightful book.”

The New Yorker Page-Turner Blog:
“Tarnoff provides a fascinating snapshot of the era, when the city’s prosperity and unique international character (he points out that in 1860 almost two-thirds of the city’s adult males were foreign-born) brought about a thrilling, if chaotic, admixture of idealism and fun.”

Publishers Weekly:
“Tarnoff’s glimmering prose lends grandeur to this account of four writers (Mark Twain, Bret Harte, Charles Warren Stoddard, and Ina Coolbrith) who built ‘an extraordinary literary scene’ in the frontier boom town of 1860s San Francisco….The lively historical detail and loving tone of the interwoven biographies make a highly readable story of this formative time in American letters, starring San Francisco as the city that lifted ‘Twain to literary greatness.’”

Booklist:
“Tarnoff energetically portrays this irresistible quartet within a vital historical setting, tracking the controversies they sparked and the struggles they endured, bringing forward an underappreciated facet of American literature. We see Twain in a revealing new light, but most affecting are Tarnoff’s insights into Harte’s ‘downward spiral,’ Stoddard’s faltering, and persevering Coolbrith’s triumph as California’s first poet laureate.”

Extras

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