Alan Kaufman has been compared to Jack Kerouac, Henry Miller, Hubert Selby Jr., even Ernest Hemmingway his life reads so much like a great movie that the world of cinema has just optioned his first memoir, Jew Boy, for a feature film. Drunken Angel, his new autobiographical work, drops like a sledgehammer. It is the most gripping, chilling and inspiring account ever written of a life-long battle with alcoholism and the struggle to write. Graphic in its grit, an education in pain, Drunken Angel is being hailed as "the Naked Lunch of memoirs."
The book chronicles Kaufman's headlong plunge into the piratical life of a literary drunk, and takes us shamelessly through noirish alleyways of S&M sensuality, forbidden pleasures and pitfalls of adultery, the thrilling horrors of war, plus raging poetry nights, mental illness, homelessness, literary struggle and his strange, magnificent rise into a sobriety of personal triumph as crazily improbable as the famous and notorious figures he meets along the way. Drunken Angel contains revealing portraits of such literary figures as Allen Ginsberg, Kathy Acker, Barney Rosset, Anthony Burgess, Elie Wiesel, Ron Kolm, Isaac Bashevis Singer, Jim Feast, Bernard Malamud, Hubert Selby Jr., Bob Holman, Sapphire, not to speak of the gutter dreamers, Nuyorican Poets, Unbearables, Babarians, Slammers, Black foot Indians, commandos, criminals, junkies, renegade cocktail waitresses, hoboes, painters, and a host of others who each in some way, big or small, play their part in peopling the wildly exilerating drama of Kaufman's passionate and exotic life.
Whether the addiction be booze, women, violence, writing or fame, Kaufman honors us with an explicit honesty that only a writer of enormous power and artistic greatness can attain, and his life, as Drunken Angel poignantly shows, is a profoundly meaningful quest for truth and spiritual values.
About the Author
Alan Kaufman's novel "Matches" was published by Little, Brown and Company in the Fall of 2005. David Mamet has called "Matches" "an extraordinary war novel," and Dave Eggers has written that "there is more passion here then you see in twenty other books combined." Kaufman's critically-acclaimed memoir, "Jew Boy" (Fromm/Farrar, Straus and Giroux), has appeared in three editions, hardcover and paperback, in the United States and Great Britain.
Kaufman is the award-winning editor of several anthologies, the most recent of which, "The Outlaw Bible of American Literature," was recently reviewed on the cover of the "New York Times" Book Review. There are two more volumes in Kaufman's Outlaw anthology series: "The Outlaw Bible of American Poetry" and "The Outlaw Bible of American Essays." He has taught in the graduate and undergraduate schools of the Academy of Art University and in writing workshops in San Francisco. His work has appeared in Salon, "The Los Angeles Times, The San Francisco Chronicle, Partisan Review" and "The San Francisco Examiner." Kaufman has been widely anthologized, most recently in" Nothing Makes You Free: Writings From Descendents of Holocaust Survivors" (WW Norton). Kaufman is a member of PEN American Center. Kaufman's papers and manuscripts are on deposit in the Special Collections Library of the University of Delaware and he is profiled in the Europa Biographical Reference Series.
In more than two hundred pages of blistering hangovers, park bench nights, and fistfights, Kaufman becomes a celebrated writer and avant garde arts advocate A clearly articulated roadmap to freedom for the addict, Drunken Angel is an easy and exciting memoir. This outlaw hero is someone to cheer for” Foreword Reviews
"[An] addictive memoir of self-destruction, recuperation and a literary coming-of-age." Kirkus Reviews
"Whether the subject is parental abuse, alcoholism, or the travails of the writing life, Kaufman’s (Jew Boy; Matches) memoir violently grabs your attention, refusing to let up until he’s had his say. This is a brutish and riveting trek through a talented and severely alcoholic psyche. Those who persist are rewarded with stylish, intense writing and the intimate details of the author’s metamorphosis." Publishers Weekly
"Alan Kaufman, the author of the lively but exasperating autobiography of alcoholism, Drunken Angel, sweetens the pot considerably. He drops so many names, and finds himself involved in so many improbably episodes of transnational mayhem and kinky sex, that the escapades could almost fill a Bond novel. But to be fair, there’s nothing debonair going on here... Alan Kaufman is more Jack Kerouac than James Bond: One of the founding members of California’s Spoken Word scene, editor of The Outlaw Bible of American Poetry, Kaufman bounced through the beat/hippie/downtown scenes in New York, and San Francisco and Israel, writing for Jewish publications, treating his wives shabbily, and blacking out all over whatever town he happened to be in. It’s not pretty, and it’s not meant to be."
Dirk Hanson, Addiction Inbox
"So, too, Kaufman’s trademark is that he wears his ravaged heart on his sleeve. Still, in using that last phrase, I would like to change its customary meaning, which generally refers to an author who is too open, too ready with the tears or shouts of joy. For Kaufman, it is almost the opposite. In passage after passage, we see the truths of the heart are hard won; and this, the psychic searching that is behind every emotion rendered, accounts for the book’s explosive, gripping caliber, both in terms of the solid resonance of the personal and social insights, which with the pages are full, and the ready flow of lyrical, wrenching prose, which, if I may use this metaphor, in each chapter, pours the reader a full measure of literary soul."
The Evergreen Review
"With an outsized heart to go with its outsized thirst, Drunken Angel tells the sort of truths that feel like myths and the sort of myths that feel like truth.
Daniel Handler, author of Adverbs
"As engrossing, moving and honest a literary memoir as one will ever read, Drunken Angel is that rare combination of aching beauty and haunting truth, all made vivid and alive with a poetry that is both turbulent and profoundly wise. Alan Kaufman takes his readers on a Jewish Huck Finn journey of addiction, regret, and rage. With his immense literary gifts as a storyteller, he turns the jagged, jaded tale of his life into a true work of art, and along way finds the reconciliation and peace that made this memoir possible, and for that, we should all be grateful."
-Thane Rosenbaum, author of The Golems of Gotham, Second Hand Smoke,and Elijah Visible
"A great, amazing and honest book. An interesting life, a shameless sincerity and the talent to tell a story are the essential ingredients needed to create a captivating memoir and Alan Kaufman's 'Drunken Angel' has tons of all three."
Etgar Keret, author of The Girl on the Fridge
"Drunken Angel reads like a recovery memoir written in another time, from another generation, though it’s of the present. Alan Kaufman’s story is riveting: raw in its passion and lacerating in its testimony."
Oscar Villalon, former book editor at the San Francisco Chronicle, board member of the National Book Critics Circle
"Make no mistake, a star is born. A unique original voice with extraordinary grace and power..."
Harold Norse, author of Memoirs of a Bastard Angel
"A grand epic of a memoir..."
Ruth Prawer Jhanvala, winner of the Booker Prize and twice winner of the Academy Award for Best Screenplay
"Kaufman's unique voice...is a latter-day extension of the pulp literati, the Hubert Selbys and Jean Genets, improbably leavened with plenty of youthful naivete and whimsy...combines the core elements of Kerouac's wide-eyed discovery of an alternative America, (Henry) Miller's resolve to throw open the doors of private lives, however unflattering, and (Art) Spiegelman's comic-book approach to the modern era's most horrific event."
James Sullivan, front page review in the San Francisco Chronicle
"Great...writing like this comes along once every fifty years..."
Barney Rosset, founder of Grove Press
What Authors are Saying about Alan Kaufman:
"He's not neat, he's not careful... but here's more passion than you see in twenty other books combined..."
Dave Eggers, Author
"...unusual, profound, simple, brutal, idiosyncratic."
David Mamet, Winner of the Pulitzer Prize
"Fascinating... an abundance of suspense, curiosity, wonder and awe. I want to congratulate and thank Alan Kaufman for enriching my life."
Hubert Selby, Jr., author of Last Exit to Brooklyn