Carl Van Vechten (1880- 1964) was born in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and attended the University of Chicago before moving to New York in 1906. He found work as a music critic for The New York Times and, after a trip to Europe, worked for the paper as a critic of modern dance. After publishing various collections of essays, Van Vechten achieved further success as a novelist in the Twenties; he became known, too, as a vigorous critical advocate of the writers and artists of the Harlem Renaissance. Twice married but famously gay, Van Vechten was a lifelong friend of Gertrude Stein, who made him her literary executor. He also enjoyed a distinguished career as a portrait photographer, whose many glamorous subjects included Billie Holiday, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Marlon Brando.
The erudite and charming Carl Van Vechten sings the praises of the most enigmatic of human companions in this witty, learned, and unabashedly opinionated book.