Month: May 2016

  • All
  • A Gentleman in Moscow
  • Book Clubs
  • Essay
  • Images
  • Music
  • Q & A
  • Rules of Civility

A Glimpse of Stocking

When I was ten, our babysitter Mary Fallon turned on the rarely used kitchen radio to a rock & roll station, and it was never turned off again. Bob Dylan and Bob Seeger; Jimmy Hendrix and Jimmy Page; Keith Richards and Keith Moon: in my teens, I came to know all of these gentlemen quite well, and they have been close friends ever since. But before all of that fine electric guitar and amplified attitude, there was Ella Fitzgerald Sings the Cole Porter Songbook (Verve, 1956).
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This brief interaction in the nether-hour of Closing Time is not simply a setup for a well-crafted song; it is an archetypal American scene. It is a motif that has persisted over a century of our cultural history—appearing as a central image in important works of fiction, music, and film, and serving as a touchstone for a variety of artistic movements spannin
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Though Hopper was active as a painter in New York between the wars—a crowded, volatile and bustling time for the great metropolis—he opted to become a master of the peripheral reverie and the intimate aside. In a quiet café, a young woman sits by herself at a small marble topped table. As a movie plays for patrons, an usherette leans against a wall out of view of the feature. And as the first members of a well-dressed audience assemble, a solitary woman examines her program in her box.
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Rules of Civility: Reviews

“This very good first novel about striving and surviving in Depression-era Manhattan deserves attention…The great strength of Rules of Civility is in the sharp, sure-handed…evocation of Manhattan in the late ‘30s…  Advance reviews of Mr. Towles’s novel have rarely failed to bring up F. Scott’s name. Who needs such burdensome comparisons? On the evidence of “Rules of…
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Rules of Civility: International Editions

United Kingdom Sceptre July 2011 Germany Graf Verlag March 2011 France Albin Michel 2012 Italy Neri Pozza October 2011 Spain Salamandra 2012 Netherlands Orlando January 2012 Sweden Bokforlaget Forum August 2011 Finland WSOY Fall 2012 Norway August 2012 Israel Modan Fall 2012 China Shanghai 99 July 2012
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Rules of Civility: Questions For Consideration

Five years ago, three friends and I set out to read some of the “great books” – or those works of literature which would merit re-reading several times over the course of our lives. We started with Marcel Proust’s Remembrance of Things Past and have since worked through the works of Twain and Faulkner, Cervantes and Marquez,…
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Rules of Civility: Q & A

Below are some answers to commonly asked questions about RULES OF CIVILITY. Commentary on the role of Walker Evans’s photography in the book is included here. Commentary on the role of jazz in the book is included here. If you have other questions or would like to be on my distribution list for rare news…
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Rules of Civility: Music

I have created an extensive playlist of music from roughly 1935-1945 that spans this transition. While jazz is not central to the narrative of Rules of Civility, the music and its various formulations are an important component of the book’s backdrop.
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Rules of Civility: Gallery

While I began writing Rules of Civility in 2006, the genesis of the book dates back to the early 1990s when I happened upon a copy of Many Are Called, the collection of portraits that Walker Evan took on the New York City subways in the late 1930s with a hidden camera.
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The Metropol

What follows is a brief anecdotal history of the Metropol Hotel - but for a glimpse of the hotel today, you can watch the interview that ran on CBS Sunday Morning with me and CBS senior correspondent (and former Moscow bureau chief), Liz Palmer.
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