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Joe Gould's Secret (Tie-in Edition) (Modern Library)
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Joe Gould's Secret (Tie-in Edition) (Modern Library)

4.11 of 5 stars 4.11  ·  rating details  ·  576 ratings  ·  44 reviews
Joseph Ferdinand Gould--better known as Joe Gould--was a member of one of the oldest families in Massachusetts and a graduate of Harvard, and his parents took it for granted that he would go on to medical school and become a surgeon and a distinguished civic leader, as many of his ancestors, including his father and grandfather, had. Instead, in 1916, in his middle twentie ...more
Hardcover, 208 pages
Published April 25th 2000 by Modern Library (first published 1993)
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Imagine Hamsun's emaciated artist taking his defiance to Greenwich Village and living hand to mouth for twenty years. No pawning of underwear and top coats here, the intellectual vagrant would require a different angle. He'd have to shuffle, he would need to embrace his humility. Such was what I initially divined to be at the core of Mitchell's book, an outgrowth of piece he wrote on Gould in the New Yorker in 1942. That isn't the case.

An expose lies at the heart of the tale, but the story of Jo
hay man
Pretty cool little biography or character study or whatever you like. Some funny parts and well... kind of a bummer in the end. There were a lot of times that I felt like I related to Joe Gould more than is healthy.

Here's a funny passage

"I can't stand them and they can't stand me, but the hell of it is, I enjoy them and I enjoy their meetings. They're so bad they're good. Also, after the program they serve wine. Also, there's a high percentage of unmarried lady poets among them, and sooner or la
Half profile and half expose, the book is a tender look at a local hero who is crazy but loved for it. Joe Gould says he was a mucus-y and ambisinistrous child. He beat Howard Zinn by a few decades with his "Oral History," which purported to tell the real history of the nation -- the history of the people living their day-to-day lives. It was supposed to have weighed in at 9 million words, nearly 13 times the length of the Bible! He was writing down the "Oral History," sometimes being paid in fo ...more
Nick Sweeney
Joe Gould was certainly beat, though, like Jack Kerouac, proudly not beatnik, one of those mercurial American eccentrics, messianic when it suited him, pathetic when it didn’t, diplomatic or direct when he needed to be. When New Yorker writer Joseph Mitchell first encountered him in the late 1950s, Gould was living semi-rough in New York, though he was a Harvard graduate and had been a professional ethnographer and a journalist. He was known as Professor Seagull, and frequented poetry readings, ...more
Sorry folks, but Joe Gould's Secret was just meh to me.

First of all, it is not the mistake of the narrative, or even the author himself - or Joe Gould's, for that matter - that his "secret" is yawningly predictable. So predictable, in fact, that the tragic nature of it reads a little bit banal. It's so baseline realistic and understandable as to lack the ability to compel. The lessons to infer, the character of the man, are so obvious that the insight one could garner is a miniscule non-event. I
Douglas Dalrymple
I don’t know if people were simply more gullible in the New York City of the nineteen-forties and fifties or if my easy cynicism has finally paid off in actual enlightenment, but I guessed Joe Gould’s “secret” long before the author himself stumbled upon it. Gould himself seems to have been an intolerable person – a willful eccentric, a drunkard, suspicious and needy, suffering from delusions of grandeur. The last (perhaps) of the old Village bohemians, he claimed to be writing an Oral History o ...more

"Il segreto di Joe Gould" è formato da due racconti: Il professor Gabbiano del 1942 e Il segreto di Joe Gould del 1964.

Il primo è un "profilo" scritto per il New Yorker che presenta questa simpatica e bislacca figura di Joe Gould, un barbone "bohémien" impegnato nella scrittura del libro più lungo di tutta la letteratura: la "Storia orale del mondo".

Questo "profilo" è una cronaca più che un vero racconto: è piatto e superficiale, riporta la descrizione di Joe Gould e del suo ambiente senza
The first legitimately great book that I've read in some time, and all the more so for being so compact and circumspect. In some ways deeply distressing, full of real pain and disillusionment, and hope, too. A great True New York story that rises far above the genre. Run, do not walk, to your nearest library or bookstore and get a copy.
Mitchell beschreibt in zwei Geschichten seinen Begegnungen mit Joe Gould, einem Bohemien, der tatsächlich lebte- im New York der 30er/40er Jahre. Obdach- und besitzlos streifte Gould durch die Straßen, an einer "Erzählen Geschichte" arbeitend. Mitchell findet heraus, dass diese Geschichte aber nie geschrieben wurde; nur einige andere Texte hat Gould in Zeitschriften veröffentlicht und damit das Aufsehen wichtiger Schriftsteller wie E.E. Cummings, William Saroyan.
Geschrieben sind die Geschichten
Daniel Murray
I'm reading Mitchell's book, Up In The Old Hotel, and came across the Professor Seagull piece in McSorley's Wonderful Saloon. This caused me to dig deeper into the story of Joe Gould.
Joseph Nicolello
Superb on scattered levels. First off I'm a fool for ignoring my old friend's urgings of Mitchell two years ago whereas when you live in New York the whole goddamned book after book about it is just much better when you're on if you're on vacation, whatever that means.

Gould is the New York Quixote. Homeless Bowery bearded chain-smoking alcoholic slob who graduated from Harvard and wore Cummings's hat around the village. His Oral History was seven million words long, a manuscript taller than the
Daniel Magner
Thought a bit about the five stars, but I couldn't help it.

This is just such a well-composed piece. Gould was an enthralling main character/antagonist, and the split nature of Mitchell's opinion of him as it changed before and after Professor Seagull is perfect.

If this book could be summed up in a single cliche, that cliche would be that the truth is stranger than fiction. But it really can't be summed up in a single cliche. If you're still reading this review, stop and go read this book instea
Owen Curtsinger
I achingly realized Joe Gould's 'secret' about halfway through the book, and was thereafter in a constant state of pity for him, for Joseph Mitchell, and for many of the various characters swept up in the Oral History. I think he was an interesting and respectable guy, but it made me sad to realize that if he were still around today, he would be brushed off as a destitute panhandler so much more easily now than in the Bohemian scene of the 1940's. It was also fun to read about New York at that t ...more
Melissa Lyttle
Interesting profile of a fascinating character. Remarkable to see how much better Mitchell's writing got in the 20+ years between chapters. Toward the end though, I was cursing Mitchell for possibly starting the trend of a writer inserting one's self in an otherwise decent narrative -- paving the way for future narcissistic, egocentric young writers to do the same.
Starts out a bit snooty (as might well be expected from New Yorker types), but then becomes most intriguing indeed. Unfortunately though I have to say that my interest was lessened considerably by the revelation of the Secret. And afterward I had a tough time getting a grasp on the author's version of ethics, as he keeps the whole business quietly to himself. A lot of amusing moments anyway, such as the following excerpt: "My heart sank. Oh, God, I remember thinking, I'm in for it now. He'll com ...more
If you are intrigued by the myth and mystique of New York City and the infinite possibilities of life in the megalopolis, this is a must-read.

Joseph Mitchell's book is about the legendary 'bohemian' Joe Gould, a character who frequented the cheap cafes and ratty bars of the down-and-out neighborhoods of NYC, long before these same locations became trendy destinations. All the energy and paranoia of a life lived the street permeates the portrait of this rather extraordinary person, who claims he
I'm an up/down reviewer, so I only do five or one stars. My advice: read this one. Joseph Mitchell truly deserves the accolades he garnered over his life writing for the New Yorker, and provides a shining examples of why long-form journalism remains vital —especially in an era of Internet- and TV-induced cultural ADD. This crafty, engaging portrait of a strange little man winds up being a perfect portrait of our personal quests for meaning, without realizing that our individual stories — no mat ...more
I love this book. 3rd time read. One of my favorite works of nonfiction, up there with In Cold Blood and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. I've liked all of Mitchell's books--reports from New York at its cultural peak--but Gould goes to the next level, a unique peek into how people love an outsider artist, and the realities of his actual life. Seagulls everywhere would be proud.
Fantastic True Story. Treat yourself to this interesting man.
Joe Gould's Secret tells the real story of a homeless man that lived off of a dream: he dreamed that he was a gifted writer; and he sold that dream to a number of people that fed him and eventually provided him with shelter and money for drinks. He was no writer at all; but he was very entertaining; and nobody knew that he wasn't really writing anything. This book is very successful showing his wonderful personality and the different tricks he applied to get some cash out of the people around hi ...more
A great, anecdotal biography of an interesting, discarded type-of-man who rarely receives such scrunity and respect. Full of heart, yet satisfyingly objective. By the end of this deftly-composed portrait, Joe Gould will remain seated comfortably in the back chamber of your heart-memory as he did in the back of Greenwich Village dives for so many years. A lasting image of an easily overlooked character in a simple and brief style. Absolutely worthy story to dedicate a few afternoons to.
Leslie Roberts
Nov 20, 2008 Leslie Roberts is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
My buddy Sasha Waters sent me this book a week ago. She knows my keen interest in reportage and it does not get much better than Mitchell. Mitchell wrote longish essays for The New Yorker, and Joe Gould's Secret is a hard-to-stop reading account of an eccentric character who wandered the streets of Greenwich Village, befriending everyone from Mitchell to ee cummings to barmen around the neighborhood. His secret? Well, start will not be disappointed...
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Joseph Mitchell virou referência pela qualidade de seu texto e por dar vida aos anônimos de Nova York nos longos perfis que escrevia. São essas as duas observações que mais se repetem sobre o autor, mas “O segredo de Joe Gould” também põe abaixo dois dogmas do jornalismo: o “compromisso com a verdade” e as fórmulas ortodoxas sobre como escrever uma reportagem. Isso, mais de 40 anos atrás. Fascinante.
Dominique Jacques
Les deux versions d'un long portrait publié à 20 ans d'intervalle dans le New Yorker. Joe Gould marginal, excentrique, alcoolique, vivant dans le sa grand-œuvre L'Histoire Orale. Curieux de savoir qu'il a influencé nombre d'écrivains et d'artistes des années 20 ...avec des élucubrations d'alcoolique! Destiné à être lu dans un magazine, et non comme un livre....
Really interesting book, particularly evoking Greenwich Village in the 1940s and the types of characters who lived there. I admit it took the Wikipedia article to remind me of the similarities, but The Hippos Were Boiled in Their Tanks talks about the same place/time as well - these are two great books to read in tandem about NYC in ages past.
Joseph Mitchell, criminally ignored writer, "the American master of the declarative sentence". Whenever I get bored late at night I pop in a DVD-rom disc from The Complete New Yorker and read old Joseph Mitchell Profiles pieces from the 40s. Captures all the downtown/midtown Moondogesque characters in all their oddball glory.
Gale Jake
Watched the movie. Human interest story based on actual events. Causes a lot of pondering and reflection. Interesting ending. Something one would have to read or watch (ideally both) to capture multiple psychological currents. A story with significant impact. Recommended.
This was a fun little read, and another of those that I picked up at the school bookstore. How come I never take classes that get the fun assigned reading? I should probably stop buying the books for other classes, but it's a habit I started as an undergrad.
Quirky story that is as much about a strange maladjusted character living around Greenwich village in the 40's and by happenstance, the writer who took an interest in him. The ending, though not entirely surprising, was surely illuminating.
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Goodreads Italia: Il segreto di Joe Gould - Joseph Mitchell 1 12 Oct 30, 2013 10:33AM  
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There is more than one author with this name

Joseph Mitchell was an American writer who wrote for The New Yorker. He is known for his carefully written portraits of eccentrics and people on the fringes of society, especially in and around New York City.
More about Joseph Mitchell...
Up in the Old Hotel McSorley's Wonderful Saloon My Ears Are Bent The Bottom Of The Harbor Old Mr. Flood

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