29 December 2008

Party Like It's 1929

I recently read Indiana University English professor George B. Hutchinson's biography of the Harlem Renaissance writer In Search of Nella Larsen: A Biography of the Color Line. (I read Thadious M. Davis's biography in 1997 when I did a paper about Harlem Renaissance writers.) I'm fascinated with the way I misapprehended Larsen's life. Of course, Hutchinson did a stunning amount of detective work. I had assumed Larsen kind of "dropped out" after her brush with plagiarism. But she just breezed on through that and got her Guggenheim on.

What struck me about this book was all the partying those people did. Of course, that fits in with our ideas of what the 1920s were about--gin and short skirts! But, of course, Nella Larsen knew some fancy-schmancy people. But every time you turn around it's cocktails, dinners, teas, balls, card parties, nightclubs, galas, theatre excursions, dancing! I was writhing with envy. Our DVDs and Internet friends in the early 21st century are so paltry in comparison. I'd rather write lots and lots of letters, go to little parties where there's a punchbowl, and wear gloves.

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