Twentieth-Century Boy: Notebooks of the Seventies

Artist Duncan Hannah began keeping a journal when he was 17, living with his parents in Minneapolis and in constant pursuit of sex, drugs and the budding punk rock scene. "I'm writing these journals to capture my youth," he confesses. "I'd like to fulfill a dream and become a pop star, but I can't sing!" By the end of these journals (1981, at age 28), the transplanted New Yorker's oil paintings were earning him lasting fame.

Like Patti Smith's Just Kids, Hannah's Twentieth-Century Boy captures the raw, exciting, boozy and sensual times, coming of age among budding New York artists in the 1970s. Strikingly beautiful and amazingly well-read, Hannah attracted a lot of attention from both men and women. Although he was a voracious heterosexual, he admired the gay artists surrounding him. While finding himself as a painter, he worked as a print model and even co-starred in two underground films with Debbie Harry. Amid the rampant drinking and drugs, it's amazing Hannah kept such detailed and evocative journals. At one point, he complains, "I smell like booze all the time now, but it's expensive booze for a change.... I'm living faster than I can write." One boozy night out with Andy Warhol, David Bowie and Bryan Ferry ends with a bouncer tossing him into the gutter. "Just like in the movies," he writes. "The famous gutter that I've heard so much about. I made it!"

Hannah captures the exuberance and flamboyance of budding artists set free in the sexually permissive, drug-fueled art world of 1970s NYC. --Kevin Howell, independent reviewer and marketing consultant

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