Marcelle Clements was a hot writer in the 80s, with essays in Rolling Stone, Esquire, The Village Voice and other soon-to-be fading beacons of the new journalism. The title essay from Rolling Stone is the lament of an ex-hippie who discovers that grown-up worries and responsibilities do not really mix well with a marijuana habit, as euphoria gives way to paranoia. Your high self used to laugh at the silly dog in the dorm room. Now your life is the dog, and it's no laughing matter. Other topics: the rise of the "mutant elite" (I still don't get that one); the evolution of the meaning of "cool"; why no New Yorker should ever go below 14th Street; the lives of anxious professional women in the big city; and other tropes of what people imagine life was like in Manhattan from about 1981 to 1985, when it was still gritty, and somewhat more affordable, and misery was apparently a pose that could sell magazines. She also has interviews with Klaus Kinski, Sting and a woman turned Sandinista guerrilla. It's quite the dog's breakfast, in other words. From the jacket blurb of this rumpled 1987 paperback: "A born social critic unafraid to feel bad about things, Marcelle Clements goes right to the heart of our post-sixties malaise. In this collection of trenchant, sometimes hilarious pieces, she examines..."  Yadda, yadda. I was a dude in my own 20something malaise, but I pored over this book for clues to what life might be like down the road for an aspiring writer. I keep it now as some sort of artifact of that youth, when baby-boomer Clements was watching 40 approach fast. Whatever happened to her? It appears she eventually ventured below 14th Street (ha!), where she was teaching Proust at N.Y.U. Here's an interview from 2003. 

     This Old Book started as a Tumblr, which is also archived on These are books that have survived many purges from my shelves over decades, with a few comments attempting to figure out why I have held onto them.

AuthorPatrick LaForge