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TWENTIETH-CENTURY BOY: Notebooks of the Seventies (Alfred A. Knopf, March 13, 2018, $28.95), by celebrated painter Duncan Hannah, is a rollicking and vividly immediate account of his life in 1970s New York—a lost (and increasingly mystical) world of freedom, squalor, and artistic achievement. 

Hannah arrived in New York City from Minneapolis in the early 1970s as an art student hungry for experience, game for almost anything, and with a prodigious taste for drugs, girls, alcohol, movies, rock and roll, books, parties, and everything else the city had to offer.  Throughout the decade he kept lively, shockingly well-written journals chronicling his experiences, which now jump off the page with a brilliant and expressive immediacy.  A louche, sometimes lurid, and incredibly entertaining report, his notebooks are full of outrageously bad behavior, naked ambition, gender-bending celebrities, fantastically good music and evaporating barriers of taste and decorum.  Hannah crosses paths with Patti Smith, David Bowie, Lou Reed, Iggy Pop, Andy Warhol, and dozens of other night clubbers of lesser fame.  But at the book’s center is a young man in the mix and on the make, determined to forge an identity for himself as an artist while being at risk from his own heedless appetites. 

Told with a painter’s eye for detail and a raconteur’s gift for storytelling, TWENTIETH-CENTURY BOY is a time capsule from a scary, seedy, but irresistible time and place.


Duncan Hannah was born in Minneapolis in 1952. He attended Bard College from 1971 to 1973 and Parsons School of Design from 1973 to 1975. In the seventies, he became associated with New York's avant-garde and glam and punk rock scenes, acted in a number of underground movies, and showed several of his figurative portraits in 1980's infamous Times Square Show. His work is in numerous public and private collections, including the Metropolitan Museum and the Minneapolis Art Institute. He lives in New York with the designer Megan Wilson.