The Village Voice Reader – 1962

Village Voice Reader

This book was selected for the inaugural post because it captures the 1962 zeitgeist and a bit of family history. As shown on the cover, the Village Voice Reader prominently features Jean Shepherd of WOR radio and “Christmas Story” fame. Jean was married to my aunt — the lovely and talented actress, Lois Nettleton. She was an avid reader– the walls of her NY apartment were lined with books on art, humor, and philosophy. Her collection provides a view into the intellectual and artistic climate of the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s. These books were bequeathed to me and are the subject of the blog.

Many books in the collection, including this one, were acquired during her 1960-1967 marriage to Jean. When he first arrived in NY, Jean wrote for the Village Voice. According to wfmu.org, Jean Shepherd “evoked New York’s beat scene during the 1950s, spinning first-hand vignettes of Kerouac, Mingus, Feiffer and Ginsberg.” Quite the line-up.

This first edition is a short story compilation featuring Jean and his Greenwich Village pals. It includes “The Hip and the Square” by Norman Mailer and the intriguing "The Hip Historian Knows a Man's Pad is His Castle' by Suzanne Kiplinger.

The inside jacket provides this description:

" As most people know, Greenwich Village is that way out, Bohemian section of America located somewhere in New York City where tourists, flock to gawk, teenagers crowd for kicks, and where everyone listens to poetry. "The Village" is beats and beards, arts and jazz, intellectuals and pseudo-intellectuals, the square, the hip, and the coffee houses. It is also a splendid residential district, a slum, an idea, a spirit, a fraud."

This captures some of the magic I felt when Lois visited my family in our small NJ town when I was a child. She brought a bit of this fairy dust and excitement that I hoped would rub off on me. The book's language, design, and typography evoke warm memories of her and of the longing created in me for a life beyond suburbia.

The book also tells us something about the roots of the Village Voice:

"In 1955 two young men, once a practicing psychologist and the other a scholar in philosophy, started an unorthodox weekly in Greenwich Village. of course, their background equipped them perfectly for newspaper publishing. The Voice was originally conceived as a living, breathing attempt to demolish the notion that one needs to be a professional or accomplish something in a field as purportedly technical as journalism. We wanted to jam the gears of creeping automatism. The newspaper succeeded."

So the Village Voice was a father to the blogger, giving a platform to those outside the established media. The viewpoints expressed by the Voice rarely reflect my own, but props to the founding visionaries for understanding the human need for creative expression.

And with that I close, grateful for the opportunity to share my voice with you. Hat tip to John Bowab for making this possible. Until next time.

Advertisements

4 thoughts on “The Village Voice Reader – 1962

  1. This is a wonderful subject for a blog. I’m always interested in books and what people I admire read. I’m the author of EXCELSIOR, YOU FATHEAD! THE ART AND ENIGMA OF JEAN SHEPHERD (Applause, 3/2005) I visited John Bowab in your aunt’s apartment after she died, and was delighted to see where Jean and Lois had lived during their marriage. I noted the various pieces of Jean’s career and life in the apartment, including books, a lovely ink drawing of a building in the kitchen, and several of his paintings on the walls. I was delighted to understand how much Lois admired Jean and how much of his creative references she kept (I bought some of then subsequently on ebay, including a valentine she made for him and a valentine he drew for her).

    When I’d been given Lois’s Hollywood address, I’d written to her and sent a signed copy of my book about Jean. She responded with a phone call to me and an extensive hand-written letter which I cherish. When I met John Bowab, he gave me the dozens of small, hand-written notes she had made about my book, with the intention of discussing them with me when we would meet in her apartment the next time she was in NYC. Unfortunately she became ill and that never happened.

    On my blog begun this February (www.shepquest.wordpress.com) I have already posted once about Lois and her relationship with Jean. In the future I’ll be posting more about her and Jean.

    I look forward to your future blogs about Lois and her books.

    Eugene B. Bergmann

  2. Thank you so much for your note, Eugene! I admire your writing and deeply appreciate your recollections of Shep and Lois. Your skill in tracking down information is impressive, too.

    I do indeed remember meeting you in Lois’ NY apartment with John Bowab and my brother. John was kind enough to ship the collection to my home. It is magnificent – full of rare books, first editions, and autographs. The blog is my way of honoring Lois and recalling the intellectual influences on her craft . I’m not sure I can do it justice, but will try. Thank you for your wonderful writing and for keeping the memory alive. I look forward to reading more on your blog.

    Best,
    Katherine

    • Katherine, I’ll continue to check on your new blog posts–is there a way to get email notification when you post?–my blog has such a feature, though I’m not sure it works.

      Obviously, I’m very interested in information of a professional and personal nature about Jean and Lois. I’m most interested in career info on Shepherd, though I do keep tabs on his personal life also. For example, during a period in 1965, on occasion he would sing the song lyrics “You’re going to miss me when I’m gone,” And I believe they split up at around this time, so I guess that he was singing and pleading with Lois to continue their relationship. One of the very few times that one might see a connection between his creative work and his real life. (Covert reference that it is.) Also, in her apartment I saw his inscription to her in her copy of IN GOD WE TRUST and wanted that book.(Very strange words he wrote to her!) I’m told that it sold for the absurd amount of about $2,000 !!! I believe that I’m one of the few Shepherd fanatics with a strong interest in the Lois-Jean connection.

      Excelsior,

      Gene

      • Gene,

        Thank you so much for your comments. You probably know far more about their relationship than I do! This I know – Lois respected and admired Shepherd, yet the relationship was personally painful. Genius is hard to live with.

        As far as the books go, it’s quite interesting to hear the amount obtained for IN GOD WE TRUST. I only received a portion of the collection,. John Bowab kept some of her books, too. But there are some collector’s items among the set. I plan to feature them on the blog soon.

        Thanks for sharing your rich knowledge and filling in some of my gaps. I need to spend more time with your excellent biography.

        Pax et bonum,
        Katherine

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: