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Dawn Powell: A Biography

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In Dawn Powell: A Biography, Tim Page explores the fascinating ironies and sad complexities of Powell's life and work. Gore Vidal once referred to her as our best comic novelist, deserving to be as widely read as Hemingway and Fitzgerald. This biography is a celebration of her triumphant rise from the ashes of near oblivion to her establishment among the giants of twentiet In Dawn Powell: A Biography, Tim Page explores the fascinating ironies and sad complexities of Powell's life and work. Gore Vidal once referred to her as our best comic novelist, deserving to be as widely read as Hemingway and Fitzgerald. This biography is a celebration of her triumphant rise from the ashes of near oblivion to her establishment among the giants of twentieth-century American literature. Dawn Powell lived in New York City for forty-seven years but always maintained the perspective of a "permanent visitor." She distilled this into her many poems, stories, articles, plays, and her dizzying and inventive novels.


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In Dawn Powell: A Biography, Tim Page explores the fascinating ironies and sad complexities of Powell's life and work. Gore Vidal once referred to her as our best comic novelist, deserving to be as widely read as Hemingway and Fitzgerald. This biography is a celebration of her triumphant rise from the ashes of near oblivion to her establishment among the giants of twentiet In Dawn Powell: A Biography, Tim Page explores the fascinating ironies and sad complexities of Powell's life and work. Gore Vidal once referred to her as our best comic novelist, deserving to be as widely read as Hemingway and Fitzgerald. This biography is a celebration of her triumphant rise from the ashes of near oblivion to her establishment among the giants of twentieth-century American literature. Dawn Powell lived in New York City for forty-seven years but always maintained the perspective of a "permanent visitor." She distilled this into her many poems, stories, articles, plays, and her dizzying and inventive novels.

30 review for Dawn Powell: A Biography

  1. 5 out of 5

    Joselito Honestly and Brilliantly

    Dawn Powell was a writer who was not a member of Enrique Vila-Matas's "Writers of the No." For she wrote and wrote and was never undaunted by bad reviews and the modest financial gains she had had with her novels. This biography has an intriguing beginning: a description of the New York Cemetery on Hart Island, unknown to most New Yorkers, accessible only by a restricted ferry. It is a public burial ground of the unknown/unidentified corpses, the impoverished dead, lost vagrants pulled from their Dawn Powell was a writer who was not a member of Enrique Vila-Matas's "Writers of the No." For she wrote and wrote and was never undaunted by bad reviews and the modest financial gains she had had with her novels. This biography has an intriguing beginning: a description of the New York Cemetery on Hart Island, unknown to most New Yorkers, accessible only by a restricted ferry. It is a public burial ground of the unknown/unidentified corpses, the impoverished dead, lost vagrants pulled from their sleeping bags in rigor mortis, miscarried babies, corpses dredged up from the Hudson River, the dead without any living relatives, and the like. Dawn Powell's remains were buried here in the springtime of 1970, almost five years after her death. She who had written a lot, achieved some modest fame in her lifetime, and who was a friend or acquiantance to the likes of John Dos Passos, Edmund Wilson, Hannah Green, Ernest Hemingway and Dorothy Parker. Gore Vidal says she was one of America's most brilliant, and the most witty, novelists whose literary reputation continues to grow long after her death. I don't know, since I haven't read any of her novels. But I found one one day, at Booksle, which I would not have bought (despite its cheap price) had I not known this author through this excellent biography.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Lauren Stoolfire

    A friend of mine recommended that I try reading Dawn Powell (1896-1965), an Ohio born author, and in the meantime let me borrow this biography about her life. I went from knowing nothing about her except the names of some of her works to adding several of her books to my already mountainous tbr.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Katy Koivastik

    Tim Page engages readers from the prologue where he informs us of Dawn Powell’s burial in a pauper’s grave five years after her death. He promises to tell us the “implausible story” of how she got there, compelling us to read on. We have Page to thank for wresting control of Powell’s papers from her overmatched executor and bringing them to Columbia University, ultimately leading to renewed interest and republication of Powell’s work. In between the prologue and the afterward is the story of the Tim Page engages readers from the prologue where he informs us of Dawn Powell’s burial in a pauper’s grave five years after her death. He promises to tell us the “implausible story” of how she got there, compelling us to read on. We have Page to thank for wresting control of Powell’s papers from her overmatched executor and bringing them to Columbia University, ultimately leading to renewed interest and republication of Powell’s work. In between the prologue and the afterward is the story of the life of a midwestern woman who determined early on to write, and write on the the biggest stage of all: New York City. Despite poverty, an alcoholic husband, an autistic son, and her own probable alcoholism and other health issues, Dawn Powell wrote because she couldn’t not write. Inspiring.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Badabada7

    Dawn Powell was a fascinating personality. She overcame so many hardships in her life, was able to publish an incredible amount of novels, articles, short stories, etc. and always found the humor in the most trying of circumstances. I am looking forward to reading her novels. She is the most prolific novelist you have never heard of. I am immersed in her canon because of an interview I watched with Fran Leibowitz, who celebrated Dawn Powell in an essay in “Unknown Geniuses”.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Maureen Flatley

    Superb.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Jane Barber

    Biography. Reading this well researched and written bio filled in the wholes about the author I admire.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Laura

    Tim Page has done an excellent job of introducing Dawn Powell to readers. Powell, a Village fixture for 40 odd years, was a largely forgotten writer but interest in her work has been renewed thanks to the efforts of people like Gore Vidal and Tim Page. Most of her best books are readily available both in print and electronically. Powell was basically a nice Ohio girl from a not-so-nice family who moved to New York City and made it. She may not have quite made it big, but she made it nonetheless. Tim Page has done an excellent job of introducing Dawn Powell to readers. Powell, a Village fixture for 40 odd years, was a largely forgotten writer but interest in her work has been renewed thanks to the efforts of people like Gore Vidal and Tim Page. Most of her best books are readily available both in print and electronically. Powell was basically a nice Ohio girl from a not-so-nice family who moved to New York City and made it. She may not have quite made it big, but she made it nonetheless. Her circle of friends and acquaintances included notables from art, literary, and theatrical circles. She married once, for life, but this did not preclude some amorous adventures although Page does not dwell on her sex life. She had one child, an autistic son born before the diagnosis of autism existed. In addition, her husband was an alcoholic and she was plagued with health issue such as a teratoma in her chest. She remained close to her sisters and other relatives in Ohio until her death, but she never felt quite at home anywhere but NYC. She gave a speech at her college alma mater in which she advised the young women to leap before they looked because if you look than you never leap. I kind of wish I had read those words 30 years ago. Since I first heard of Powell, I have read a few of her books and really enjoyed them. With her wit and bon mots, it's rather astounding that Dorothy Parker eclipsed her in fame.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Deborah Stanish

    Fascinating look into the life of a now obscure writer. This caught my interest when I read the story of Tim Page's attempts to sell his collection of Powell's papers. Even though I did this backwards and read the bio first, I'm intrigued enough to add Powell's novel's to my reading list. Fascinating look into the life of a now obscure writer. This caught my interest when I read the story of Tim Page's attempts to sell his collection of Powell's papers. Even though I did this backwards and read the bio first, I'm intrigued enough to add Powell's novel's to my reading list.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Glenetta

    Great book about a great author from Mt. Gilead, OH, (near my hometown). Lots of Morrow County detail in the beginning and all sorts of literary name-dropping at the end. Can't wait to read more Dawn Powell. I have become a little obsessed. Great book about a great author from Mt. Gilead, OH, (near my hometown). Lots of Morrow County detail in the beginning and all sorts of literary name-dropping at the end. Can't wait to read more Dawn Powell. I have become a little obsessed.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Joanne

    I wouldn't have liked Dawn Powell, (not that it matters) but I admire her spirit, and Tim Page's research. I wouldn't have liked Dawn Powell, (not that it matters) but I admire her spirit, and Tim Page's research.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Ryan

  12. 5 out of 5

    Lizafe27

  13. 5 out of 5

    Debra Lape

  14. 4 out of 5

    Frank Spencer

  15. 5 out of 5

    Tracie

  16. 4 out of 5

    Mary Elizabeth

  17. 5 out of 5

    Deena Dietrich

  18. 5 out of 5

    Mark

  19. 4 out of 5

    Kallie

  20. 5 out of 5

    Kurt

  21. 5 out of 5

    Brannon

  22. 5 out of 5

    Terry Mckenzie

  23. 5 out of 5

    Mary

  24. 4 out of 5

    Stevefk

  25. 5 out of 5

    jdbartone

  26. 4 out of 5

    Nora Wright

  27. 4 out of 5

    Jason

  28. 4 out of 5

    Sandra Koponen

  29. 4 out of 5

    Sara

  30. 4 out of 5

    Susan Bybee

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