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May 31, 2010 1:24 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking for books about life in New York City in the 1970s; nonfiction preferred.

I'm looking for books about life in New York City in the 1970s; nonfiction preferred. I've recently read Patti Smith's Just Kids, Edmund White's City Boy, and I grew up with beautiful books about Blondie and the music scene during that time. I also read the fat Mapplethorpe biography. What else would you recommend? Nonfiction, memoir, especially by or about artists and musicians go to the top of the pile, but fiction suggestions are welcome, too.
posted by Riverine to Writing & Language (16 answers total) 26 users marked this as a favorite
"please kill me" by legs mcneil
posted by bunny hugger at 1:36 PM on May 31, 2010 [1 favorite]

If you want a book of pictures of a certain perspective about NY in the 70s, then I'd recommend Nan Goldin's I'll be Your Mirror.

In a nutshell: she photographed herself and her eclectic friends. It's basically a photohistory of what the East Village used to be like before it polished its shoes, straightened its tie and got a haircut.
posted by MuffinMan at 1:51 PM on May 31, 2010 [1 favorite]

"Ladies and Gentlemen, The Bronx is Burning"

Adapted into a lousy TV movie on ESPN, but a great writeup of what was going on in NYC in 1977, and how it happened that NYC had gotten to where it was. Less arts than general NYC, but still interesting.
posted by swngnmonk at 1:52 PM on May 31, 2010 [1 favorite]

The Destruction of Lower Manhattan is a photo book by Danny Lyon. It covers what was demolished to make room for the Twin Towers.
posted by R. Mutt at 2:00 PM on May 31, 2010 [1 favorite]

Jonathan Lethem's Fortress of Solitude is fiction, but the first 60-70% details the lives of two boys growing up in the 70s in Brooklyn, and gives a very good impression of the era and city (Lethem grew up in the 70s in Brooklyn himself).
posted by shakespeherian at 2:44 PM on May 31, 2010 [1 favorite]

absolutely Jim Carroll's Forced Entries -- lots of great, hilarious dirt about being on the periphery of the Warhol/Factory scene, plus cameos by Dylan, the Velvet Undeground, and others, plus veiled references to Patti Smith.
posted by scody at 2:47 PM on May 31, 2010

Dr James Goodman: Blackout. "The 1977 New York City blackout is the star of Rutgers University history professor and author James Goodman’s Blackout, which documents the event before, during and after it happened, and how it effected a variety of city residents. "
posted by iviken at 3:00 PM on May 31, 2010 [1 favorite]

I really like Allan Tannenbaum's New York in the 70s. Some photos here.

Also seconding swngnmonk's suggestion.
posted by thejoshu at 3:02 PM on May 31, 2010 [1 favorite]

Yes Yes Y'all by Jim Fricke - an oral history of the early days of hip-hop, with lots of amazing photos of NYC in the '70s.
posted by The Card Cheat at 4:09 PM on May 31, 2010 [1 favorite]

Rip It Up and Start Again by Simon Reynolds is about post-punk and has a lot on the New York music scene in the late 70s.
posted by Kattullus at 5:08 PM on May 31, 2010 [1 favorite]

Oh, and novel Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann is about New York in the 70s, specifically 1974.
posted by Kattullus at 5:10 PM on May 31, 2010 [1 favorite]

Susan Gilman's book Hypocrite in a Poufy White Dress is a memoir about growing up on the Upper West Side in the 60s and 70s. Kind of silly but still terribly entertaining.
posted by elizardbits at 6:55 PM on May 31, 2010 [1 favorite]

Tales of Times Square by Josh Alan Friedman covers Times Square from the late 70s through the early 80s.
posted by maurice at 7:34 PM on May 31, 2010 [1 favorite]

Norma Klein's YA and adult novels.
posted by brujita at 10:13 PM on May 31, 2010

Response by poster: All of these are marvelous suggestions, and a few reminded me of what I've already read of this stuff. One not mentioned is Eileen Myles' Chelsea Girls, and Andy Warhol's diary. If you have more, please add! Thanks.
posted by Riverine at 4:02 PM on June 4, 2010

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