The Bohemians

Paperback $17.00

Feb 24, 2015 | 336 Pages

Ebook $12.99

Mar 20, 2014 | 336 Pages

  • Paperback $17.00

    Feb 24, 2015 | 336 Pages

  • Ebook $12.99

    Mar 20, 2014 | 336 Pages

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The New Yorker
“Tarnoff’s book sings with the humor and expansiveness of his subjects’ prose, capturing the intoxicating atmosphere of possibility that defined, for a time, America’s frontier.”

San Francisco Chronicle
“Tarnoff breathes fresh life into his narrative with vivid details from the archives… giving us a rich portrait of a lost world overflowing with new wealth and new talent… [A] stylish and fast-paced literary history.”

Chicago Tribune
“Engrossing… By skillfully tracking the friendships and fortunes of this unusual quartet, Tarnoff narrates the awakening of a powerful new sensibility in American literature…. Tarnoff powerfully evokes the western landscapes, local cultures and youthful friendships that helped shape Twain. He has a talent for selecting details that animate the past.”

Wall Street Journal
“Rich hauls of historical research, deeply excavated but lightly borne…. Mr. Tarnoff’s ultimate thesis is a strong one, strongly expressed: that together these writers ‘helped pry American literature away from its provincial origins in New England and push it into a broader current’.”

Boston Globe
“Delightful…. Adeptly wrapping a wonderful story around these young writers, Tarnoff glides smoothly along, never dwelling too long and never claiming too much. He stacks fifty pages of endnotes at the back of the book but such archival sweat doesn’t show in the prose.”

Washington Post
“Tarnoff is a good storyteller and character-portraitist, with a deep knowledge of the West Coat.”

Minneapolis Star Tribune
“Meticulously researched and exhilarating… Twain may be the main draw of Tarnoff’s book, but Tarnoff’s writing about a few of Twain’s contemporaries — Bret Harte, Charles Warren Stoddard, Ina Coolbrith — is just as engaging.”

Kansas City Star
 “Tarnoff successfully contributes to the compendium [of Twain scholarship] with a fresh take on Twain’s San Francisco circle, which was akin to the Algonquin Roundtable in Manhattan or ‘Lost Generation’ of writers in Paris.”

The Daily Beast
“Lively… Tarnoff draws a vivid contrast between sardonic, sophisticated, and sartorially dapper [Bret] Harte, San Francisco’s literary star, and the unkempt, uncouth Mark Twain who rolled into town in 1863, a scuffling newspaperman looking to move on and up from provincial Virginia City, Nevada.”

The New Yorker‘s Page-Turner blog
“Tarnoff provides a fascinating snapshot of the era, when the city’s prosperity and unique international character (he points out that in 1860 almost two-thirds of the city’s adult males were foreign-born) brought about a thrilling, if chaotic, admixture of idealism and fun.”

The Oregonian
“Deftly written, wholly absorbing.”

Publishers Weekly
“Tarnoff’s glimmering prose lends grandeur to this account of four writers (Mark Twain, Bret Harte, Charles Warren Stoddard, and Ina Coolbrith) who built ‘an extraordinary literary scene’ in the frontier boom town of 1860s San Francisco….The lively historical detail and loving tone of the interwoven biographies make a highly readable story of this formative time in American letters, starring San Francisco as the city that lifted ‘Twain to literary greatness’.”

“Tarnoff energetically portrays this irresistible quartet within a vital historical setting, tracking the controversies they sparked and the struggles they endured, bringing forward an underappreciated facet of American literature. We see Twain in a revealing new light, but most affecting are Tarnoff’s insights into Harte’s ‘downward spiral,’ Stoddard’s faltering, and persevering Coolbrith’s triumph as California’s first poet laureate.”

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