The New York Diary by Ned Rorem
New York : George Braziller, 1967. First Edition. Hardcover. 218 pages ; 22 cm. $5.95 dust jacket with minimal wear. Pages are clean and unmarked. Binding is firm.
The New York Diary of Ned Rorem
Ned Rorem's New York diary begins where his Paris diary left off, with the author homeward bound on the S.S. United States. "Tomorrow we arrive in New York."
"Now shyness forces me, all seasick, back into this journal," he notes on the opening page. "Hopefully it will be at once less frivolous and more outspoken than those Paris diaries. One grows increasingly unconcerned about others' eccentricities if they begin to displace one's own.
"Where am I? The man-as-artist can begin again only in midstream, that place where
s time for time, where the future can't loom, the past sheds its skin, and where we finally find ourselves in the fact."
It is doubtful if any other American author today sees himself as plainly "in the fact" as Ned Rorem does, or can write about himself as frankly and fearlessly, without ever trying to appear as anything other than he actually is.
"Yet whoever shows his 'real' side-assuming there is a real side?" he asks, and In effect asks, again and again, trying to understand himself better as a man and an artist. "O God, where a whole life's spent wishing we could or had, then finding ourself in the fact (as though suddenly) and wondering: well, this is it, and is this all? There must be something more! People keep asking: where does the man leave off and the artist begin? This is where."
Ned Rorem's New York Diary continues the portrait of the artist begun in his Paris Diary. He is in his thirties now, more thoughtful perhaps than in his earlier journal, an acute observer of his inner cinema and intent on catching a glimpse of his true face in the mirror of his life. "It's not that I'm more self-involved than other people," he writes. "I'm just more free about showing it." As witty, as sensitive and unpredictable as ever, now grave, now wryly humorous, with a fine ear for the precise word, the right phrase, the subtle cadence—what an amazing writer, we say, forgetting for the moment that Ned Rorem is also a composer of note. Surely no less astonishing is his capacity for work; one wonders how any man can produce so much, yet spend himself so freely and with such passion on other concerns—and other people, all those people, famous and otherwise, one meets in these teeming pages.
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