Review: The Algonquin Round Table New York: A Historical Guide

Review of The Algonquin Round Table New York: A Historical Guide

by Kevin C. Fitzpatrick (LP: Guildford, CT, 2015)

Just when you think you’ve read every good story about The Algonquin Round Table, along comes Kevin Fitzpatrick’s book with a whole host of new ones.

Right from the beginning we have magazine illustrator Neysa McMein acting as Santa Claus for New York’s poor children in 1923. Who knew?

My academic research was about this group and other “salons”—writers who hung out together—of the time period [www.suchfriends.wordpress.com]. But even after 20+ years of reading biographies and giving presentations about them, I learned even more from this thoroughly well-researched and designed book.

I treated myself to reading a chapter each evening with my dinner while on a recent business trip. However, The Algonquin Round Table New York: A Historical Guide is ideally suited for those who like to dip in and out. You can easily start with writers, artists and places you know, and then move on to learn about the ones who are more obscure—composer Deems Taylor, New Yorker poet Frank Sullivan, actress Peggy Wood. There’s a lesson here about the fleeting nature of fame, when so many creative people who were the talk of the town in each morning newspaper in Manhattan are now mostly forgotten. But not by Kevin!

This book would serve as an excellent companion for a solo walking tour around Manhattan. Kevin has put all his knowledge of the geography and architecture of the city in here including specific addresses for any venue the group members lived in or even visited. If you’re not able to go along on one of his official walking tours, this book is the next best thing.

So treat yourself to a good old-fashioned hardback copy, and start dipping into the fabulous stories of these ‘such friends.’

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