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A Chance Meeting by Rachel Cohen
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A Chance Meeting

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A Chance Meeting by Rachel Cohen
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Mar 19, 2024 | ISBN 9781681378107

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    Mar 19, 2024 | ISBN 9781681378107

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“Strange, beautiful and unclassifiable. . . . The portraits, or sketches, which [Cohen] offers are subtle, intimate, and persuasive . . . not only a significant study of a century of American culture, but a fascinating entertainment.” —John Banville, The Guardian

“Cohen is besotted with the cross-pollination of talent, with the way creative people flit in and out of each other’s orbits . . . like a portraitist, Cohen turns her subjects this way and that, refracting a moment until the light catches it just right . . . the effect can be dazzling.” —David Kipen, NPR

“Dazzling . . . a book that’s as addictive as popcorn . . . It elevates name dropping to an art, and transforms literary criticism into a party.” —San Francisco Chronicle

“Innovative . . . faultless . . . [Cohen] gives us a more intimate sense of these people in a few pages than one sometimes gleans from entire biographies.” —The New Yorker

“A masterpiece . . . A Chance Meeting takes thirty American writers and artists from Henry James to Robert Lowell, and braids them together in thirty-six encounters. Each person comes round two or three times, and every meeting, friendship and collaboration has a resonance that can be heard down the ages until what you have before you is an immense chain of artistic consequences.” —The Economist

“Symphonic . . . elegant and elegiac . . . [A Chance Meeting] answers hungers you did not even know you had. . . . At book’s end, the world to which Cohen returns you is more vivid, peopled with new acquaintances. . . . Outstanding.” —Emily Bernard, Chicago Tribune

“Enthralling. . . . The 36 essays, as they progress . . . from the Civil War to the civil rights movement, constitute something of a new genre, rare in our period. . . . What is being divined is nothing less than a century or so of American taste, the nature of modern literary and artistic tangency in the United States. . . . I know of no remotely analogous cultural articulation — not even Alfred Kazin’s richly rehearsed An American Procession — that ventures so explicitly, and so readily, into the American briar patch of racial and sexual encounters. . . . Rachel Cohen’s vision of the life of art in her chosen century, and the effect of that vision upon her reader, is one of an astonishing gladness.” —Richard Howard, Los Angeles Times Book Review

“Captivating . . . like an elaborate fugue . . . [Cohen’s] prose is elegant yet plain, and her judgments sound and generous. . . . While carving a set of brilliant miniatures, Cohen is also indirectly telling a story of sex, race, political protest and celebrity culture in America, from the Victorian era to the 1960s.” —The Boston Globe

“Cunningly crafted and meticulously written. . . . What Cohen has written is not so much a group biography as a sort of evocative matrix of writers and artists over time, with exhilarating overlap and cross-reference.” —The New Republic

“Stylish . . . A Chance Meeting explores the imaginative enlargement that results from an encounter with an inventive (and kindred) mind. . . . Cohen writes like a fiction writer . . . [and] deftly evokes character through eccentric detail.” —Meghan O’Rourke, Slate

“An innovative hybrid of biography, cultural history, ‘imaginative nonfiction,’ and gossipy anecdote. In Cohen’s great chain of being, one brilliant creator is linked to another and another, so that American culture is seen as the vibrant organic whole it truly is.” —Newsday

Table Of Contents

Chapter 1: Henry James and Mathew Brady
Chapter 2: William Dean Howells and Annie Adams Fields and Walt Whitman
Chapter 3: Mathew Brady and Ulysses S. Grant
Chapter 4: William Dean Howells and Henry James
Chapter 5: Walt Whitman and Matthew Brady
Chapter 6: Mark Twain and William Dean Howells
Chapter 7: Mark Twain and Ulysses S. Grant
Chapter 8: W.E.B. Du Bois and William James
Chapter 9: Gertrude Stein and William James
Chapter 10: Henry James and Annie Adams Fields and Sarah Orne Jewett
Chapter 11: Edward Steichen and Alfred Stieglitz
Chapter 12: Willa Cather and Mark Twain
Chapter 13: Willa Cather and Annie Adams Fields and Sarah Orne Jewett
Chapter 14: Edward Steichen and Alfred Stieglitz and Gertrude Stein
Chapter 15: Carl Van Vechten and Gertrude Stein
Chapter 16: Marcel Duchamp and Alfred Stieglitz
Chapter 17: Willa Cather and Edward Steichen and Katherine Anne Porter
Chapter 18: Alfred Stieglitz and Hart Crane
Chapter 19: Hart Crane and Charlie Chaplin
Chapter 20: Langston Hughes and Zora Neale Hurston
Chapter 21: Beauford Delaney and W.E.B. Du Bois
Chapter 22: Hart Crane and Katherine Anne Porter
Chapter 23: Elizabeth Bishop and Marianne Moore
Chapter 24: Zora Neale Hurston and Carl Van Vechten
Chapter 25: Joseph Cornell and Marcel Duchamp
Chapter 26: Beauford Delaney and James Baldwin
Chapter 27: Joseph Cornell and Marianne Moore
Chapter 28: James Baldwin and Norman Mailer
Chapter 29: Robert Lowell and Elizabeth Bishop
Chapter 30: John Cage and Richard Avedon
Chapter 31: W.E.B. Du Bois and Charlie Chaplin
Chapter 32: Langston Hughes and Carl Van Vechten and Richard Avedon
Chapter 33: Richard Avedon and James Baldwin
Chapter 34: Marianne Moore and Norman Mailer
Chapter 35: John Cage and Marcel Duchamp
Chapter 36: Norman Mailer and Robert Lowell

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