Knowing when to stop : a memoir


Rorem, Ned

Composers -- United States -- Biography. Compositeurs -- …tats-Unis -- Biographies. Autobiographie Rorem, Ned, 1923- Rorem, Ned, 1923- Rorem, Ned Rorem, Ned, 1923- Music United States


607 p.

Simon & Schuster

Publisher location:
New York

Accession number:

Box 105

ill. ; 25 cm. Includes index. Ned Rorem. Book


Call number:
LC: ML410.R693; Dewey: 780/.92; B

ISBN: 0671728725; 9780671728724 LCCN: 94-19899

Work type:
Biography (bio)

Research notes:
Dust jacket flap at p. 13

He is among America's great living composers. His prose has won him distinction in literary circles. Now, in a revealing memoir covering his first twenty-eight years, ending in 1951 when his published diaries begin, but always with the perceptive wisdom and chagrin made inevitable by the intervening years, Ned Rorem analyzes his astonishing career. Published in four volumes, Ned Rorem's diaries - an ongoing chronicle of his life and work - have taken on cult status and have won plaudits everywhere. "Rorem is a marvelous writer," raved James Dickey. "His prose is supple, vivid, arresting," wrote London's Times Literary Supplement. "His intelligence never permits him to be blinded to the truth. He is candid to the point of scandal . . . racy yet poetic, earthy yet exquisite," said Saturday Review. With the appearance of his Paris Diary in 1966, Rorem became a hero for the pre-Stonewall gay movement as the first cultural figure to come out of the closet without apology. The new book's unflinching candor goes well beyond the narcissistic boundaries of his diaries. Recounting friendships with such vital presences as Leonard Bernstein, Martha Graham, Jean Cocteau, Billie Holiday, Francis Poulenc, Truman Capote, James Baldwin, Virgil Thomson, Paul Bowles, and, of course, Marie-Laure de Noailles, Knowing When to Stop explodes old secrets and examines new truths. Starting in Chicago, moving to New York, Paris, Morocco, and other points both exotic and familiar, Ned Rorem's memoir is a masterpiece of distances pulled together, lives resurrected, opportunities ignored, chances recaptured. It also gives full expression to the terrible sexual and alcoholic dissolution of one famed for his youthful beauty, but possessed of an indomitable will not only to survive but to triumph. Here is the life of a man who knew himself perhaps too well.