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A Time to be Born Paperback – 7 Aug 2000

5.0 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 327 pages
  • Publisher: Steerforth Press; Steerforth Press Ed edition (7 Aug. 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1883642418
  • ISBN-13: 978-1883642419
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 2.5 x 20.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 364,865 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Paperback
Dawn Powell (1896 --1965) is an American novelist whose works have captured some attention in recent years. Powell grew up in a small town in Ohio but spent most of her life in New York City. Her 15 novels are autobiographical. They feature characters who move from the constraints of small-town America to attempt to make their way in New York City. The earlier novels focus on small town life while Powell's later novels are sharp, satiric pictures of New York.
Powell's "A Time to be Born" (1942) takes place in New York City just as the United States is preparing to enter WW II. It is a mixture of cutting satire, a coming-of-age novel, and a comedy of manners. The two major characters are two women who have left the same small Ohio town to come to New York and their varying and interrelated fortunes. The first, Amanda Keeler Evans, has become the wife of a powerful publisher, has written a novel, participates in highly-publicised war relief efforts, and is a syndicated columnist on world affairs (which are written for her). Her childhood friend, Vickie Haven, comes to New York after a failed love affair, and her life becomes intertwined with Amanda. In the complex plot, both women share an apartment, which Amanda uses for an affair with Kenneth Saunders, a lover from the days before her marriage. A triangle develops among Saunders, Amanda, and Vickie.
The book tells the story of Vickie Haven's coming-of-age as she gradually weans herself from dependence on her family in Ohio and from Amanda. She begins to act independently when she takes her own apartment and leaves the situation into which Amanda has manipulated her. As with all Powell's writings, the awakening is only partial and bittersweet.
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Format: Paperback
This novel, set in early World War II, could have been written yesterday. The author masterfully portrays complex characters with ranges of selfishness, naivete, cynicism, humor, everything. It's a great story of twenty-something's making their way in New York City. Enjoy!
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By prisrob TOP 50 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 27 May 2006
Format: Paperback
Gore Vidal, admired and respected Dawn Powell and wrote a long article called,"Dawn Powell, The American Writer". Here he explains her writing "The novels of Dawn Powell have no truck with hypocrisies. She does not judge, excuse or sentimentalize, viewing her characters with a fine indifference to their manifold failings. Her almost Flaubertian aesthetic morality was often misread as sour detachment, but it was anything but. As she noted in her diary, "The satirist who really loves people loves them so well the way they are that he sees no need to disguise their characteristics -- he loves the whole, without retouching. Yet the word used for this unqualifying affection is 'cynicism.'" The Powell Effect is strikingly evident in her handling of the Clare Booth Luce character in her roman à clef "A Time to Be Born." The character is, in every conventional sense, a monster of sexual and literary deception, and a consummate liar and user, yet seen through Powell's clarifying lens her actions become understandable -- one even comes to accord her energies a respect akin to that we have for Becky Sharp. To feel, really feel, the heartbreak of an objectively contemptible character is an exquisitely mixed literary experience.. ." For his part, Gore Vidal offered a simple reason for Powell's sudden popularity: "We are catching up to her."

Dawn Powell came to New York City from Ohio. Many of her characters also were transplanted Midwesterners in the big city. The characters she writes about with her perfect economy, the writers and gallery owners, the publishers and businessmen juggling their mistresses, the gold diggers and sexual misfits and those that just slum, she offers no judgment about but is amused by their actions.
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Format: Paperback
This is the first of Dawn Powell's books I have read, and I look forward to reading the rest. It's a hilarious send-up of very recognizable types, as caustic and cynical (and as funny) as H. L. Mencken or Ambrose Bierce has written.
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