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Bobbed Hair and Bathtub Gin

Writers Running Wild in the Twenties
Meade, Marion (Book - 2004)
Average Rating: 4 stars out of 5.
Bobbed Hair and Bathtub Gin
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In her exuberant new work, BOBBED HAIR AND BATHTUB GIN, Marion Meade presents a portrait of four extraordinary writers--Dorothy Parker, Zelda Fitzgerald, Edna St. Vincent Millay, and Edna Ferber--whose loves, lives, and literary endeavors embodied the spirit of the 1920s. Capturing the jazz rhythms and desperate gaiety that defined the era, Meade gives us Parker, Fitzgerald, Millay, and Ferber, traces the intersections of their lives, and describes the men (F. Scott Fitzgerald, Edmund Wilson, Harold Ross, and Robert Benchley) who influenced them, loved them, and sometimes betrayed them. Here are the social and literary triumphs (Parker's Round Table witticisms appeared almost daily in the newspapers and Ferber and Millay won Pulitzer Prizes) and inevitably the penances each paid: crumbled love affairs, abortions, depression, lost beauty, nervous breakdowns, and finally, overdoses and even madness. These literary heroines did what they wanted, said what they thought, living wholly in the moment. They kicked open the door for twentieth-century women writers and set a new model for every woman trying to juggle the serious issues of economic independence, political power, and sexual freedom. Meade recreates the excitement, romance, and promise of the 1920s, a decade celebrated for cultural innovation--the birth of jazz, the beginning of modernism--and social and sexual liberation, bringing to light, as well, the anxiety and despair that lurked beneath the nonstop partying and outrageous behavior. A vibrant mixture of literary scholarship, social history, and scandal, BOBBED HAIR AND BATHTUB GIN is a rich evocation of a period that will forever intrigue and captivate us.
Authors: Meade, Marion, 1934-
Title: Bobbed hair and bathtub gin
writers running wild in the Twenties
Publisher: New York : Nan A. Talese/Doubleday, 2004
Edition: 1st ed
Characteristics: 340 p. :,ill. ;,24 cm
Statement of Responsibility: Marion Meade
ISBN: 0385502427
Branch Call Number: 810.99287 M481b 2004
Bibliography: Includes bibliographical references (p. [297]-340)
Subject Headings: United States Social life and customs 1918-1945 Nineteen twenties Women authors, American Biography Women and literature United States History 20th century Authors, American 20th century Biography Ferber, Edna, 1887-1968 Parker, Dorothy, 1893-1967 Fitzgerald, Zelda, 1900-1948 Millay, Edna St. Vincent, 1892-1950
Topical Term: Nineteen twenties
Women authors, American
Women and literature
Authors, American
LCCN: 2003064585
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Capturing the jazz rhythms and desperate gaiety that defined the era, Meade gives us Parker, Fitzgerald, Millay, and Ferber, traces the intersections of their lives, and describes the men (F. Scott Fitzgerald, Edmund Wilson, Harold Ross, and Robert Benchley) who influenced them, loved them, and s... Read More »


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Apr 27, 2012
  • AnneDromeda rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

For the past couple years, readers have been captivated by books - like *The Paris Wife* - giving an inside look into the messy private lives of 1920s writers like F Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway. Marion Meade's new book, *Bobbed Hair and Bathtub Gin*, builds on this trend with a novelty: Rather than focusing on the most celebrated (usually male) writers of the period, or on the lives of their wives and lovers, *Bobbed Hair and Bathtub Gin* instead focusses on the lives of four critically acclaimed women writers from the same social scene. <br />

Following Zelda Fitzgerald, Edna St Vincent Millay, Dorothy Parker and Edna Ferber's exploits through the roaring twenties, Bobbed Hair and Bathtub Gin feels a little like walking into your grandparents' laundry room and discovering some very racy unmentionables. It hardly seems possible that leading luminaries of such a venerated generation were capable of such unbridled sass or wild behaviour. Weren't they thinking of reputations? How could they network if they kept sleeping with the connections? <br />

The book is arranged chronologically, with each chapter detailing a year in the lives of all four women. Support comes from a cast of mercurial men, all seeking control of or profit from the brilliance of these women, and almost all of whom were punished spectacularly for the bother. The chronological approach effectively highlights the incestuousness of the American literary social scene, as well as the significant challenges women writers faced when doing the same work as their male colleagues. <br />

As the decade's debauchery rots in on itself, leaving contracts unmet and lives in ruins, the reactions of all four women vary widely. Fitzgerald's mental state falls apart spectacularly ahead of the economy; Millay retreats from her glittering, sexually ambiguous city life into the country with a husband and morphine; Parker – having never struck it rich anyhow – finds little sympathy for her wealthier friends; while Ferber's sensible approach and strong work ethic leave her little in the way of legend but somewhat more in terms of stability and legacy. <br />

The real effects of the twenties' unbridled decadence shines most clearly through in the afterword, where Meade's accounting of the cast's final fates reads like a Coles Notes version of a Shakespearean tragedy's final act. Wildly entertaining, full of hot gossip, and high on the heady atmosphere of the roaring twenties, *Bobbed Hair and Bathtub Gin* is recommended to any literary rubberneckers interested in the angst, glitz and glamour of society life during Prohibition.

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Apr 27, 2012
  • AnneDromeda rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

For the past couple years, readers have been captivated by books - like *The Paris Wife* - giving an inside look into the messy private lives of 1920s writers like F Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway. Marion Meade's new book, *Bobbed Hair and Bathtub Gin*, builds on this trend with a novelty: Rather than focusing on the most celebrated (usually male) writers of the period, or on the lives of their wives and lovers, *Bobbed Hair and Bathtub Gin* instead focusses on the lives of four critically acclaimed women writers from the same social scene. <br />

Following Zelda Fitzgerald, Edna St Vincent Millay, Dorothy Parker and Edna Ferber's exploits through the roaring twenties, Bobbed Hair and Bathtub Gin feels a little like walking into your grandparents' laundry room and discovering some very racy unmentionables. It hardly seems possible that leading luminaries of such a venerated generation were capable of such unbridled sass or wild behaviour. Weren't they thinking of reputations? How could they network if they kept sleeping with the connections? <br />

The book is arranged chronologically, with each chapter detailing a year in the lives of all four women. Support comes from a cast of mercurial men, all seeking control of or profit from the brilliance of these women, and almost all of whom were punished spectacularly for the bother. The chronological approach effectively highlights the incestuousness of the American literary social scene, as well as the significant challenges women writers faced when doing the same work as their male colleagues. <br />

As the decade's debauchery rots in on itself, leaving contracts unmet and lives in ruins, the reactions of all four women vary widely. Fitzgerald's mental state falls apart spectacularly ahead of the economy; Millay retreats from her glittering, sexually ambiguous city life into the country with a husband and morphine; Parker – having never struck it rich anyhow – finds little sympathy for her wealthier friends; while Ferber's sensible approach and strong work ethic leave her little in the way of legend but somewhat more in terms of stability and legacy. <br />

The real effects of the twenties' unbridled decadence shines most clearly through in the afterword, where Meade's accounting of the cast's final fates reads like a Coles Notes version of a Shakespearean tragedy's final act. Wildly entertaining, full of hot gossip, and high on the heady atmosphere of the roaring twenties, *Bobbed Hair and Bathtub Gin* is recommended to any literary rubberneckers interested in the angst, glitz and glamour of society life during Prohibition.

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