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  • Writer's pictureJudith D Collins

Bohemians, Bootleggers, Flappers, and Swells

The Best of Early Vanity Fair
By Vanity Fair (Editor), Graydon Carter (Introduction), David Friend (Editor)
ISBN: 1594205981
Publisher: Penguin Press
Publication Date: 10/30/2014
Format: Hardcover
My Rating: 4 Stars

For the magazine’s centenary celebration, an anthology of pieces from the early golden age of Vanity Fair.
In honor of the 100th anniversary of Vanity Fair magazine, Bohemians, Bootleggers, Flappers, and Swells celebrates the publication’s astonishing early catalogue of writers, with works by Dorothy Parker, Noël Coward, P. G. Wodehouse, Jean Cocteau, Colette, Gertrude Stein, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Sherwood Anderson, Robert Benchley, Langston Hughes—and many others.
Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter introduces these fabulous pieces written between 1913 and 1936, when the magazine published a murderers’ row of the world’s leading literary lights.
Bohemians, Bootleggers, Flappers, and Swells features great writers on great topics, including F. Scott Fitzgerald on what a magazine should be, Clarence Darrow on equality, D. H. Lawrence on women, e.e. cummings on Calvin Coolidge, John Maynard Keynes on the collapse in money value, Thomas Mann on how films move the human heart, Alexander Woollcott on Harpo Marx, Carl Sandburg on Charlie Chaplin, Djuna Barnes on James Joyce, Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., on Joan Crawford, and Dorothy Parker on a host of topics ranging from why she hates actresses to why she hasn’t married.
These essays reflect the rich period of their creation while simultaneously addressing topics that would be recognizable in the magazine today, such as how women should navigate work and home life; our destructive fascination with the entertainment industry and with professional sports; the collapse of public faith in the financial industry; and, as Aldous Huxley asks herein, “What, Exactly, Is Modern?”
Offering readers an inebriating swig from that great cocktail shaker of the Roaring Twenties, the Jazz Age, the age of Gatsby, Bohemians, Bootleggers, Flappers, and Swells showcases unforgettable writers in search of how to live well in a changing era.

My Review

A special thank you to Penguin First to Read for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Vanity Fair, the modern and dazzling magazine of the Jazz Age—and celebration of its 100th anniversary, delivers a remarkable anthology from 1913 to 1936, showcasing an impressive lineup of the “best of the best” creative and talented literary icons of this era.
The Golden Age is so exciting and glamorous as well as tragic. From the highs to the lows—of the Roaring 20’s, the glitz, wealth, fashion, art, music, romance, sports, nightlife to the depression, addiction, drugs, stock crash, war, suffrage and Prohibition.
As a lover of this era, and Gatsby, am quite intrigued and fascinated with the legendary writers (especially F. Scott Fitzgerald and T.S. Eliot) and other contributors which captured the essence of this time; an adventure, and a changing era as we relive a time rich in history.
Bohemians, Bootleggers, Flappers and Swells: The Best of Vanity Fair offers an impressive lineup of contributors as well a collection of poems, essays, and profiles broken down by year for a thought-provoking read, not to rush, but to ponder and reflect.
An absorbing read for literary lovers everywhere, and those who appreciate the talents, humor, and insights (even cynical, controversial, and scandalous at times) of those courageous enough to convey their thoughts, dreams, and hopes for a better future. The collection is well laid out, with a brief summary of each contributor at the end.
I am enjoying many of the new books out today exploring and capturing the details of important times and commentary of historic authors with "books about books", and "books about writers"; with new insights into the depth of their writing to create awareness and meaning for this generation and those to follow.
A beautifully packaged and entertaining collection of the finest pieces and topics in the Jazz Age. Vanity Fair, a magazine predicting which cultural forces would leave a lasting mark, and pushing boundaries from men’s rites to women’s rights, to the destructive fascination with the entertainment industry and our addiction to organized sports.
Seventy-two of which are collected, focusing on how Americans, especially New Yorkers in confronting the Machine Age, radical art, urbanization, communism, Fascism, globalization (epitomized by a World War), and the battle of the sexes, were coping with the growing pains of a new phenomenon: modern life.
Well Done!






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