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Duncan Hannah Twentieth-Century Boy: Notebooks of the Seventies

March 15 @ 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm

March 15 @ 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm

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Publication Party

 …the author’s enthusiasm for la vie bohème and general disdain for the square world at times reads like a cross between a glam-rock Kerouac and a stoned Holden Caulfield (in the best possible way). —Kirkus Reviews

Howl! Happening is pleased to present an evening with Duncan Hannah and friends to celebrate the publication of Twentieth-Century Boy: Notebooks of the Seventies (Knopf, 3/13/18), by celebrated painter Duncan Hannah. The book is a rollicking and vividly immediate account of his life in 1970s New York—a lost (and increasingly mystical) world of freedom, squalor, and artistic achievement.

Hannah arrived in New York City from Minneapolis in the early 1970s as an art student hungry for experience, game for almost anything, and with a prodigious taste for drugs, girls, alcohol, movies, rock and roll, books, parties, and everything else the city had to offer.  Throughout the decade he kept lively, shockingly well-written journals chronicling his experiences, which now jump off the page with a brilliant and expressive immediacy.  A louche, sometimes lurid, and incredibly entertaining report, his notebooks are full of outrageously bad behavior, naked ambition, gender-bending celebrities, fantastically good music and evaporating barriers of taste and decorum.  Hannah crosses paths with Patti Smith, David Bowie, Lou Reed, Iggy Pop, Andy Warhol, and dozens of other night clubbers of lesser fame.  But at the book’s center is a young man in the mix and on the make, determined to forge an identity for himself as an artist while being at risk from his own heedless appetites.

Told with a painter’s eye for detail and a raconteur’s gift for storytelling, Twentieth-Century Boy: Notebooks of the Seventies is a time capsule from a scary, seedy, but irresistible time and place.


“Duncan Hannah’s Twentieth Century Boy is an unfiltered portrait of the artist as a young horndog, blessed or cursed with Bowie-like androgyny, and half the time ‘hopped up on Pernod and amphetamines.’ Amazingly—in these diaries from an extended adolescence—the prose is hopped up, too, and as disorienting as the intense downtown streets of New York City in the 70s they so accurately sketch. That these pages were written by a raw boy painter and not an eminence grise master of the art of memoir is key to their magic and mystery. A Pillow Book from a decade when no one ever slept.”
Brad Gooch, author of Smash Cut and Flannery

“Artist Duncan Hannah came to New York at 17, ambitious, angelic, straight and–according to his hugely entertaining diary–priapic.  Despite being stoned or hungover more often than not, he found time to grow as an artist and record his adventures in absorbing detail, including memorable encounters with Salvador Dalí, Andy Warhol, David Hockney and Ned Rorem.”
John Berendt, author of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil

“In early ‘70s downtown NYC, Duncan Hannah was one of the wild boys, precocious and impossibly gorgeous…These diaries, hidden away for ages, are like the Dead Sea Scrolls of a mythological Lower Manhattan underground, where the New York Dolls glitter-rock brigade made way for the CBGB revolution of Patti Smith and Television. With gobs of Warholian gossip and passionate listings of all the most radical records, books and films of the day, Twentieth Century Boy immerses the reader in a history of beauty from the Nouvelle vague to meetings with David Hockney. As the writing progresses from rat-a-tat teen beat to more adult considerations, we glean Duncan’s romance and eventual providence: to be cool is not the point, being an artist in love with the universe is.”
Thurston Moore, co-founder of Sonic Youth

“A dandy, a flaneur, a rock ‘n’ roll wastrel wandering Candide-like through the dangerous undercurrents of the 1970s: if Duncan Hannah didn’t exist, you’d have to invent him”

Jon Savage, author of England’s Dreaming and 1966

“When you come to New York City a wide-eyed artist only to discover you’re the cutest and most talented tyke in town, you meet lots of people—David Bowie, Andy Warhol and Lou Reed to name just a few—and interesting capers ensue. In Twentieth-Century Boy these adventures are recounted in prose that is eloquent and funny, written by a teen wise beyond his years. Duncan Hannah’s journals bring back the adolescence that most of us wish we had.”
Gillian McCain, co-author of Please Kill Me

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March 15
7:00 pm - 9:00 pm


Howl! Happening
6 East 1st Street
New York City, NY 10003 United States