NY Times review of Saloon Society
Living-It-Up Downtown [Book review appeared in the New York Times, October 30, 1960]
SALOON SOCIETY. By Bill Manville. Photographs by David Attie. Design by Alexey Brodovitch. 124 pp. New York
By Daniel Talbot
I rarely miss Bill Manville’s column in The Village Voice, selections of which, along with David Attie’s photography, constitute this book. Manville’s column is the essence of bitter-sweet, studded with little gems of truth. His notes on downtown saloon society are infinitely superior to the psychotic high-life coverage of all the uptown scribblers. He speaks accurately and wittily for a good many of us whose daily life has so much boredom in it. Whereas the Happy Boys of the big dailies romanticize glamour through junk-jewelry eyes, Manville romanticizes a depression with the fervor of a Seventh Day Adventist.
…Saloon Society has a unique style — a highly readable mixture of the confessional tale, court song, aphorisms and epiphany. Hang-upniks suddenly show up at the San Remo or the White Horse, and in three seconds we are introduced to why a marriage broke up or the configurations of a swinging chick or why bodies are boring or fun or vast nibbling and drinking sketches….When he describes the miseries of a wanderer, he touches poetry….In the end, a work that will particularly appeal to boy and girl bachelors who make up the .large night-wandering population of our city…
[Reproduced here with permission of NYT]