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Born in Iowa, Van Vechten early fled, though never completely escaped, his midwestern background along a route that led to the University of Chicago and then to New York where he became established as a music critic. Immersion in artistic circles came naturally and Van Vechten worked not only to criticize but to interest others in the work of new composers. Then in 1924 he left music for fiction and with the publication of his first novels followed an eight year writing career during which he promoted the works of Gertrude Stein, Ronald Firbank and others. At all times the genuine sophisticate, Van Vechten worked within the literary legacy that was his from the turn of the century, but in such novels as Peter Whiffle, Spider Boy and Parties reflected also the ""gaudy catalogue of social aberrations"" of a day that lived to escape ennui- and realized a certain futility. Trends and tones are skillfully recalled to make a fine portrait.