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Publisher's Summary

A celebrated New York City painter's rollicking and vividly immediate account of his life amid the city's glamorous demimondes in their most vital era as an aspiring artist, roaring boy, dandy, cultural omnivore, and far-from obscure object of desire.

Duncan 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. He also happened to be outrageously, androgynously beautiful, attracting the attention of the city's most prominent gay scenemeisters, who found his adamant heterosexuality a source of immense frustration. Taken directly from the notebooks Hannah kept throughout the seventies, Twentieth-Century Boy is a louche, sometimes lurid, and incredibly entertaining report from a now almost mythical time and place, full of outrageously bad behavior, naked ambition, gender-bending celebrities, fantastically good music, and evaporating barriers of taste and decorum. At its center: 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. A time capsule from a scary, seedy, but irresistible time and place. 

Cover photograph by Regis Redin Scott. Cover design by Megan Wilson. 

©2018 Duncan Hannah (P)2018 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

"An intensely personal and engrossing portrait of a bygone era... An avid partier and drinker in the right place at the right time, the author met and/or befriended a variety of the celebrities of the day, many of whom would go on to become legends (Patti Smith, Andy Warhol, David Bowie). Hannah's frequently poetic descriptions of his underground cohorts recalls Genet's parade of subversive heroes, and the author's enthusiasm for la vie boheme and general disdain for the square world at times reads like a cross between a glam-rock Kerouac and a stoned Holden Caulfield (in the best possible way).... Devotees of the underground art and punk scenes of 1970s New York will devour Hannah's journals, each page of which contains something fascinating or worthy of note - best enjoyed while listening to Bowie's 'Diamond Dogs,' Television's 'Marquee Moon,' and Patti Smith's 'Horses.'" (Kirkus Reviews)

"In early '70s downtown NYC, Duncan Hannah was one of the wild boys, precocious and impossibly gorgeous. Besotted with lust and relentless intoxication David Bowie's "Rebel, Rebel" tolled for him. These diaries, hidden away for ages, are like the Dead Sea Scrolls of a mythological Lower Manhattan underground, where the New York Dolls glitter-rock brigade made way for the CBGB revolution of Patti Smith and Television. With gobs of Warholian gossip and passionate listings of all the most radical records, books and films of the day, Twentieth Century Boy immerses the reader in a history of beauty from the Nouvelle vague to meetings with David Hockney. As the writing progresses from rat-a-tat teen beat to more adult considerations, we glean Duncan's romance and eventual providence: to be cool is not the point, being an artist in love with the universe is." (Thurston Moore, co-founder of Sonic Youth)

"Arriving in New York in 1973, the Minneapolis-born painter Duncan Hannah quickly immersed himself in the downtown art-and-music scene. These journal entries from the time chronicle young adulthood and a phantasmagoria of alcohol, sex, art, conversation, glam rock, and New Wave cinema. Hannah's writing combines self-aware humor with an intoxicating punk energy. Gregarious and game, he seems to know everyone; at one point, he winds up in a limo bound for a drag club with Andy Warhol, Bryan Ferry, and David Bowie. Somehow, by the end of the book, he's become a real artist." (The New Yorker)

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Childish drivel in search of an editor

I am amazed this silly pointless nonsense was published. From the annoying sound effects delivered by the narrator/author to the hopeless memories of dry humping teen angst I groaned my way through as much of Mr. Hannah's tedium as I could stomach. So much of what is written here are observations and therefore are others stolen memories.

I was living in New York City at the same time Mr Hannah says he was. I experienced and saw much more interesting and exciting events. I can't name drop as much as this author as I have more respect for the privacy of people I associated with. But of course, without the names dropped there would be no book.

Don't waste your credits. Read books by those who had the courage to actually do something interesting.