1974: A Personal History (Hardcover)

1974: A Personal History By Francine Prose Cover Image

1974: A Personal History (Hardcover)

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“In this remarkable memoir, the qualities that have long distinguished Francine Prose’s fiction and criticism—uncompromising intelligence, a gratifying aversion to sentiment, the citrus bite of irony—give rigor and, finally, an unexpected poignancy to an emotional, artistic, and political coming-of-age tale set in the 1970s—the decade, as she memorably puts it, when American youth realized that the changes that seemed possible in the ’60s weren’t going to happen. A fascinating and ultimately wrenching book.”—Daniel Mendelsohn, author of The Lost: A Search for Six of Six Million

The first memoir from critically acclaimed, bestselling author Francine Prose, about the close relationship she developed with activist Anthony Russo, one of the men who leaked the Pentagon Papers--and the year when our country changed.

During her twenties, Francine Prose lived in San Francisco, where she began an intense and strange relationship with Tony Russo, who had been indicted and tried for working with Daniel Ellsberg to leak the Pentagon papers. The narrative is framed around the nights she spent with Russo driving manically around San Francisco, listening to his stories--and the disturbing and dramatic end of that relationship in New York.

What happens to them mirrors the events and preoccupations of that historical moment: the Vietnam war, drugs, women's liberation, the Patty Hearst kidnapping. At once heartfelt and ironic, funny and sad, personal and political, 1974 provides an insightful look at how Francine Prose became a writer and artist during a time when the country, too, was shaping its identity.

Francine Prose is the author of twenty-two works of fiction including the highly acclaimed The Vixen; Mister Monkey; the New York Times bestseller Lovers at the Chameleon Club, Paris 1932; A Changed Man, which won the Dayton Literary Peace Prize; and Blue Angel, which was a finalist for the National Book Award. Her works of nonfiction include the highly praised Anne Frank: The Book, The Life, The Afterlife, and the New York Times bestseller Reading Like a Writer, which has become a classic. The recipient of numerous grants and honors, including a Guggenheim and a Fulbright, a Director’s Fellow at the Center for Scholars and Writers at the New York Public Library, Prose is a former president of PEN American Center, and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She is a Distinguished Writer in Residence at Bard College.

Product Details ISBN: 9780063314092
ISBN-10: 0063314096
Publisher: Harper
Publication Date: June 18th, 2024
Pages: 272
Language: English

"Deeply felt and devastatingly confessional, this brave personal reckoning isn’t easy to forget.” — Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"Prose brings all her artistry and astuteness to her first memoir… a rueful and affecting look back." — Booklist (starred review)

“A moving tale, from an expert storyteller, about growing up.” — Library Journal (starred review)

"In this, her first memoir, Prose succeeds where many before her have failed, enlivening — without demonizing or idealizing — the valiant, creative, idealistic movement that almost brought capitalism down. The era Prose profiles under the title 1974 produced crucial social advances, and did collateral damage to those, such as Russo, who were driven mad by the effort required. Fortunately for us, that period also yielded the best book yet by the wildly prolific, astonishingly talented Francine Prose." — Los Angeles Times

"Captivating…. With its fraught, late-night conversations about secrets and regret—most of which take place in a big American car hurtling down San Francisco’s rain-slicked streets —1974: A Personal History often reads like a heady film noir set amid the ashes of ’60s idealism." — San Francisco Chronicle

“Prose deftly zigzags through the pop-culture touchstones of her youth, throwing everything from Vertigo to Kurt Vonnegut’s Mother Night into dialogue with a chaotic period of both her life and American history.” — Vulture

"Award-winning Prose writes her first memoir, setting it in the ’70s and detailing her relationship with activist Anthony Russo, of the Pentagon Papers fame. She was in her 20s, driving around San Francisco at night, hearing his theories and stories, and forming herself as an artist—and coming of age in a radically changing world." — Library Journal

“Prose’s memoir of course reflects her own experience, but like all memoirs, it also offers a snapshot in time, in this case a tumultuous period in U.S. history…. Prose brings a sharp lens to her shortcomings…. This is among the many reasons Prose is widely admired as a writer. She spares no one, including herself. Intentionally or not, with this book she is making the case that she was indeed meant to be a writer.” — Washington Post

“Prose’s first memoir makes something dark and dizzying of a tumultuous decade.” — New York Magazine

“Deeply personal…revealing….Joyful and sad nostalgia offered up in spades.”Kirkus Reviews

“In this remarkable memoir, the qualities that have long distinguished Francine Prose’s fiction and criticism—uncompromising intelligence, a gratifying aversion to sentiment, the citrus bite of irony—give rigor and, finally, an unexpected poignancy to an emotional, artistic, and political coming-of-age tale set in the 1970s—the decade, as she memorably puts it, when American youth realized that the changes that seemed possible in the 60s weren’t going to happen. A fascinating and ultimately wrenching book.” — Daniel Mendelsohn, author of The Lost: A Search for Six of Six Million

"Francine Prose's 1974: A Personal History is a reverberating account of a time--the point in the early 1970s when the revolutionary energy of the 1960s had been replaced by futility and paranoia--and of a character, Tony Russo, who exemplifies that time. The constraint of history and character gives the book a novelistic intensity and focus, with, as a bonus, a three-dimensional portrait of the author on the threshold of adulthood." — Lucy Sante

"Through the prism of Vertigo, in a spellbinding memoir, Francine Prose resurrects her misbegotten San Francisco romance in 1974 with one of the two men who stole and published the Pentagon Papers, the one who went to prison for it, the one driven mad by the lies of Viet Nam. A hypnotic portrait of a lost time when people lived and died for the truth." — John Guare, playwright, Six Degrees of Separation and A Free Man of Color

"A stunningly alive portrait of the artist as a young woman, set during that dizzying time when the hopeful love-fest of the '60s morphed into the murky violence of the '70s. Reporting from both coasts, Prose laser-focuses on her relationship with indicted Tony Russo who had helped leak the Pentagon papers, the outrageous Patty Hearst kidnapping, drugs, sex, and the omnipotent Vietnam war. A fascinating travelogue of the tremendous changes in both a country and a personality struggling to find their best selves. Heartbreaking, haunting and indelible." — Caroline Leavitt, New York Times bestselling author of Pictures of You and Days of Wonder

“Francine Prose’s sublime, haunting memoir shows us the Seventies in all its dizzying contradictions—the darkness and paranoia, the open roads and strange new connections. A world where some voices disintegrated, never to cohere again—while others - emerged, brilliant and searing, out of the calamity. Poignant, mesmerizing, profound—1974 offers revelations not just about the Seventies but about our world today.” — Danzy Senna, author of Caucasia and New People 

"In this wonderfully clear-sighted memoir Francine Prose catches a moment when idealism shifted and the world turned. 1974 is also a story about youth, risk and survival - a story women don't tell often enough, perhaps. Wise, achieved, entirely satisfying." — Anne Enright, author of The Wren, the Wren