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The Golden Spur

3.95  ·  Rating Details ·  197 Ratings  ·  21 Reviews
IF A YOUNG MAN finds his own father inconveniently ordinary, can he choose another? Jonathan Jaimison, the engagingly amoral hero, comes to New York from Silver City, Ohio for exactly such a purpose. Combing through his mother's diaries and the bars and cafes of Greenwich Village, Jonathan seeks out the writer or painter whose youthful indiscretion he believes he might hav ...more
Paperback, 264 pages
Published June 1st 1998 by Zoland Books (first published 1962)
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May 15, 2011 Bob rated it it was amazing
The introduction to the set of Dawn Powell's short stories I recently read explained that she didn't think very highly of her own work in that format and wrote them mainly to earn money while she got on with her novels which she took more seriously. On the surface, her novels have a lot of similarities - satirical observations of the same striving and largely unsuccessful artists and writers stumbling around Greenwich Village. But she does take on a more sustained and ambitious theme here; the e ...more
Feb 04, 2013 Jack rated it liked it
Juicy pulp fiction of an earlier era. Dawn Powell's oh-so-studiedly scandalous look at the downtown bohemian set has all the trappings of a downscale Danielle Steele - menage a trois, casual partner swapping, buried paternity secrets. It's all delicious and wicked, greatly boosted by Powell's keen insight into human behavior and dead-on characters. Rather than mere pop trash, Powell gives you enough fully realized details to make us believe in and even care for the self-conscious hero, son of an ...more
Christopher Sutch
Nov 24, 2012 Christopher Sutch rated it really liked it
This novel doesn't rate as highly as many of her earlier works, but as I have written in my reviews of other works by Dawn Powell, everything she wrote is worth reading. This has several flashes of her descriptive brilliance and comic situations and is very entertaining. Powell breaks new ground (for her, but it must also have been fairly groundbreaking in American fiction of the time generally) in subject matter, particularly her consideration of homosexuality (though this does not get past the ...more
Feb 20, 2012 Emily rated it it was amazing
This book made me nostalgic for a New York I've never actually seen. It's wild, though, because the geographical points are still there, so you can almost feel the past rising up through the East Village of today to transport you back to decades and decades before. Dawn Powell's writing is, as ever, vibrant, rich, detailed, funny, surprising and oddly contemporary while simultaneously being from so long ago.
I didn't want it to be over so I picked up The Wicked Pavilion and re-read it as soon as
May 09, 2009 Katie rated it really liked it
Dawn Powell is great because there is emotional honesty and observation in her jokes. They entertain on the level of slight-of-tongue word play, but her snarky gibes at pomposity; her thoughtful calling attention to the arbitrary, absurd and incongruous in life; and the occasional glimpse of a character’s hidden mischievous motivations invigorate her humor with a depth and power that is rare in comic lit. Not mean at all, but, I'd say, accurate in its portrayal of oft-contradictory and befuddlin ...more
Oct 12, 2007 Jessica rated it liked it
Recommends it for: williamsburg hipsters
Shelves: here-is-new-york
Boy comes to the big city to seek his fortune/discover paternity. Dawn Powell is cool, sort of mean but not actually bitter, like Dorothy Parker's far-less-troubled older girl cousin.

This is a cute little moving-to-New-York story that made me chuckle. I think what I liked best about it was being forced to admit that even in the heavily mythologized earlier years of New York City, everyone was just as annoying and ridiculous as they are now. Still, the city sounds like it was a lot more fun then,
Aug 11, 2007 Jen rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
Copied from a review I posted elsewhere:

Her last novel, published in the early 60s, set around then too. A young man comes to Greenwich Village from a small town in Ohio to get away from his respectable (recently revealed to be not his real) father and seek his bio father from among the hep cats his mother (now deceased) knew when she was a pretty young thing in the big city. The Golden Spur is the name of the artists' watering hole where everyone hangs out. It's fun because there's the contras
Nick Duretta
Aug 06, 2011 Nick Duretta rated it liked it
A young Midwestern man travels to New York's Greenwich Village in the mid-Fifties to find his true father, one of several bohemian-types who squired his mother when she lived there in the 1920s. The novel captures the era very well, when sexual mores were changing daily and what was left of innocence was being chipped away. Yet, probably owing to the novel's comic tone, the characters never seem quite real, and the image of a sophisticated city populated by mostly insecure people, although no do ...more
Jun 04, 2008 Richard rated it really liked it
A funny and light satire by the under-heralded Dawn Powell, first published in 1962 that takes a wry look at the art and literary scene of Greenwich Village of the 1950s. Plot revolves around a naive Midwestern lad who moves to the Village in hopes of finding his real father -- after learning that his mother became pregnant during a brief NY residency years before. Style reminds me of Marquand and a little bit of John Kennedy Toole.
Myra Breckinridge
Jul 16, 2016 Myra Breckinridge rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016-reading
One could, reductively, label this a "light" "beach read," but to do so undermines the cleverness of Powell's work. It's a smooth read that can easily push you into a complacent groove, only to upend you with a biting insight. It cannot be more serious than it is. If it was, she'd fall in the same hole as her characters, a seriousness of one particular moment, soon to be dismantled by a turn of fate.
Aug 19, 2012 Carol rated it liked it
Shelves: literary-fiction
This novel had a charming almost Tom Waits feel to it. It's set among the down-and-out bohemian set in New York during the 1950s, and is about a young man who has come to the city to find out the truth about his parents. However, the story ends up being just a framework for a collection of wry peeks into the lives of a motley collection of New Yorkers either living a bohemian lifestyle, or living on the fringes of it. Powell really captures the time, place, and people extremely well.
Jul 09, 2008 Kyle rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, new-york
1962. A young man from Ohio goes to the Village to try to find his real father. He finds many men who think they could be his father and has a crazy time with the bohemian art crowd on the way, but I'm not sure he ever figured it out. The ending was a bit ambiguous. Great time to be in New York, great details, excellent writing, good plot.
Apr 26, 2008 John rated it it was amazing
Shelves: modern-fiction
A friend read this in a book club, and recommended it to me. What a find! Arch and witty, reminiscent of Dorothy Parker at her best, Powell casts a jaundiced eye on everyday life in the Manhattan of the 40s and 50s, the one we wish we'd lived in. My to-read list now includes all her other books.
Sep 26, 2007 Jennifer rated it really liked it
The characters in this book are fantastically real and human in all their insecurities and idiosynchrasies, and Powell treats each of them with more sympathy than most writers seem to give their characters. I really enjoyed reading this book.
Nov 19, 2014 Carl rated it really liked it
"'There won't be any money in art in the year two thousand, so I'm in a new business, the coming one.'"
Gobasso rated it it was amazing
May 29, 2013
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Sep 17, 2014
Michael John
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Terry Mckenzie
Terry Mckenzie rated it really liked it
Feb 10, 2009
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Feb 22, 2012
Cayenne rated it it was amazing
Sep 01, 2013
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Goodreads Librari...: Cover for an alternate edition 4 20 Jul 09, 2016 01:14PM  
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Dawn Powell (November 28, 1896 – November 14, 1965) was an American writer of satirical novels and stories that manage to be barbed and sensitive at the same time.

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