Sanford Friedman


Sanford Friedman (1928–2010) was born in New York City. After graduating from the Horace Mann School and the Carnegie Institute of Technology, he was stationed as a military police officer in Korea, earning a Bronze Star. He began his career as a playwright and theater producer, and was later a writing instructor at Juilliard and SAGE (Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders). “Ocean,” a chapter from Totempole, was serialized in Partisan Review in 1964 and won second prize in the 1965 O. Henry Awards. Totempole (1965) was followed by the novels A Haunted Woman (1968), Still Life (1975), and Rip Van Winkle (1980). At the time of his death, Friedman left behind an unpublished manuscript for the novel Conversations with Beethoven, now available as an NYRB Classic.

Books
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    Conversations with Beethoven

    Deaf but still able to converse, Beethoven “heard” those around him by means of conversation books in which friends and family jotted down communications. This daring novel, featuring a Dickensian cast, is a fictional reconstruction of these books. In it we see the aging composer struggling with his art, fighting illness, and perpetually worried about the fate of his wayward ward and nephew, Karl.

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    Totempole

    Friedman’s psychologically acute and empathetic masterpiece traces the coming-of-age—from two to twenty-four—of a boy growing up on the Lower East Side of New York. “Vivid and utterly convincing…The truth of Mr. Friedman’s book is not the truth of autobiography, but the truth-making that the best fiction is.”—James Dickey