Edited and with an Introduction by Mark Cohen
Foreword by Dan Wakefield
“Seymour Krim? Never heard of him? Start by reading this book cover to cover. If you know Seymour Krim, this collection of ‘pieces,’ a compendium of his grand kvetches, will remind you of a true indispensable American individual.” Regina Weinreich, American Book Review
Missing a Beat selected as one of History Wire’s Best of the University Presses.
“Aside from the fact that Krim had one of the most distinctive voices of his generation—postwar New York intellectual—his rare ability to express the delicate and seamy undersides of human emotions continues to astonish me.” Prof. Mark Shechner, Tablet Magazine
“Nobody else wrote about status-envy and disgruntlement with the same level of honesty.” Los Angeles Times
“Confessional writing as candid as this is both rare and refreshing.” Jewish Book World
“There is the series of remarkably penetrating essays, written out of Krim’s own experience, on what it meant, in the ’50s, to be a white boy prowling Harlem for sex and music. Today, these pieces are as wise and moving as they were on the day they were written.” Vivian Gornick, Bookforum
“The mere presence of this book makes me happy, let alone Mark Cohen’s sympathetic editing and introductions. Krim has been out of print for too long.” Joshua Cohen, The Forward
“With the passage of time, Seymour Krim comes to seem more and more unique, essential—a classic American essayist. This collection not only restores to print the heart of Krim’s achievement, but balances it out with lesser-known pieces that show his judicious lucidity, side-by-side with his manic melancholy exuberance. And Mark Cohen has done an excellent job of placing Krim in an historical and literary context.”
—Phillip Lopate, editor of The Art of the Personal Essay
“We should feel lucky to still encounter the contributions that Seymour Krim has made to the literary and nonliterary worlds of both yesterday and today.” New World Review
“Mark Cohen’s anthology resurrects Seymour Krim’s lost or little-known work. It reminds old fans of his extraordinary style and wit, and introduces a younger generation to an American original. I’m delighted to see Krim’s writing back in print and accessible to readers once again.”
—Jonah Raskin, author of American Scream: Allen Ginsberg’s “Howl” and the Making of the Beat Generation
Missing a Beat: The Rants and Regrets of Seymour Krim revives the essays of this overlooked Beat, early New Journalist, and ultimate New York writer.
Krim burst onto the Greenwich Village literary scene in the late 1950s with dukes-up personal essays in the Village Voice that won praise across the spectrum, from James Baldwin to Saul Bellow to Norman Mailer, who wrote that Krim’s hyper-verbal style made him “the child of our time, he is New York in the middle of the 20th Century.”
Krim was angry but he wasn’t a scold. He was titillated even as he held his nose. And he wrote exciting untrammeled wised-up city talk as good as that found in the mouths of A. J. Liebling’s downtown operators and Saul Bellow’s tough guys.
Like those writers, Krim brought a connoisseur’s ear to the language of the street. He celebrated its masterpieces, and in “Making It!” he caressed a new phrase: “You’ve got it made. How the words sing a swift jazz poem of success, hi-fi , the best chicks (or guys), your name in lights, pot to burn, jets to L.A. and London, bread in the bank, baby, and a fortress built around your ego like a magic suit of armor!”
During the 1960s and 1970s, Krim published three collections of his confessional, fight-picking, friendship-ending essays, won a Guggenheim and a Fulbright, taught writing at Columbia and Iowa, and made life-long fans of writers such as Phillip Lopate, Vivian Gornick, and anyone who has a taste for writing that comes from the gut and goes for the throat.
Krim died in 1989, and Missing a Beat is the first collection of his work to appear in 20 years. It collects his 18 greatest articles on success and failure, blacks and whites, unbearable intellectuals, Jews he liked and those he couldn’t stand.
He just wanted what every New Yorker wants, to “have clout out on the 10th Streets and in the pizzerias of my time.”