JOE GOULD'S SECRET by Joseph Mitchell


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We won't reveal Joe Gould's secret here, but New Yorker readers may already know it from this piece's two-part publication last year. Joe Gould ranked with Max Bodenheim as She definitive Greenwich Village Bohemian during the Twenties, Thirties and Forties. Gould was famous for his enormously unpublished Oral History of Our Time, a nine-million-word contemporary history based upon hearsay, gossip, chatter and overheard conversations. In 1942 Joseph Mitchell decided to do a Profile on Joe Gould for The New Yorker and so engaged him in depth interviews. Joe lived on ketchup and black coffee, slept on subways and benches, wore hidden newspapers to keep warm in winter, and could write for fantastic stretches of time in the public library or on the subway. He amassed his famous Oral History in children's notebooks, writing in bad longhand. After publication of the Profile, Joe became even more famous, as did his history, and he even turned semi-respectable. Meanwhile, Mitchell inadvertently discovered Joe's secret, which he has kept private since Joe's death seven years ago. Fascinating and pathetic as this true story is, one wishes it were richer in spots; the revelation scene is a bit creaky. But it has a definite curio-crank appeal.

Pub Date: Sept. 16th, 1965
ISBN: 0375708049
Publisher: Viking