Upcoming Event

Francine Prose at Harvard Book Store


1974: A Personal History

in conversation with STEPHEN MCCAULEY


June 26, 2024
7:00 PM ET


Harvard Book Store
1256 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138


This event is free; no tickets are required.

Harvard Book Store welcomes FRANCINE PROSE—New York Times bestselling and award-winning author of Lovers at the Chameleon Club, Paris 1932 and Reading Like a Writer, and Distinguished Writer in Residence at Bard College—for a discussion of her new memoir 1974: A Personal History. She will be joined in conversation by STEPHEN MCCAULEY—author of The Object of My Affection and You Only Call When You're in Trouble, and Co-Director of Creative Writing at Brandeis University. 

About 1974: A Personal History

During her twenties, Francine Prose lived in San Francisco, where she began an intense and strange relationship with Tony Russo, who had been indicted and tried for working with Daniel Ellsberg to leak the Pentagon papers. The narrative is framed around the nights she spent with Russo driving manically around San Francisco, listening to his stories--and the disturbing and dramatic end of that relationship in New York.

What happens to them mirrors the events and preoccupations of that historical moment: the Vietnam war, drugs, women's liberation, the Patty Hearst kidnapping. At once heartfelt and ironic, funny and sad, personal and political, 1974 provides an insightful look at how Francine Prose became a writer and artist during a time when the country, too, was shaping its identity.

Praise for 1974: A Personal History

“In this remarkable memoir, the qualities that have long distinguished Francine Prose’s fiction and criticism—uncompromising intelligence, a gratifying aversion to sentiment, the citrus bite of irony—give rigor and, finally, an unexpected poignancy to an emotional, artistic, and political coming-of-age tale set in the 1970s—the decade, as she memorably puts it, when American youth realized that the changes that seemed possible in the ’60s weren’t going to happen. A fascinating and ultimately wrenching book.” —Daniel Mendelsohn, author of The Lost: A Search for Six of Six Million

"Francine Prose's 1974: A Personal History is a reverberating account of a time—the point in the early 1970s when the revolutionary energy of the 1960s had been replaced by futility and paranoia—and of a character, Tony Russo, who exemplifies that time. The constraint of history and character gives the book a novelistic intensity and focus, with, as a bonus, a three-dimensional portrait of the author on the threshold of adulthood." —Lucy Sante

"Through the prism of Vertigo, in a spellbinding memoir, Francine Prose resurrects her misbegotten San Francisco romance in 1974 with one of the two men who stole and published the Pentagon Papers, the one who went to prison for it, the one driven mad by the lies of Viet Nam. A hypnotic portrait of a lost time when people lived and died for the truth." —John Guare, playwright, Six Degrees of Separation and A Free Man of Color

Masking Policy

Masks are encouraged but not required for this event.

Francine Prose
Francine Prose

Francine Prose

Francine Prose is the author of twenty-two works of fiction including the highly acclaimed The Vixen; Mister Monkey; the New York Times bestseller Lovers at the Chameleon Club, Paris 1932; A Changed Man, which won the Dayton Literary Peace Prize; and Blue Angel, which was a finalist for the National Book Award. Her works of nonfiction include the highly praised Anne Frank: The Book, The Life, The Afterlife, and the New York Times bestseller Reading Like a Writer, which has become a classic. The recipient of numerous grants and honors, including a Guggenheim and a Fulbright, a Director’s Fellow at the Center for Scholars and Writers at the New York Public Library, Prose is a former president of PEN American Center, and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She is a Distinguished Writer in Residence at Bard College.

Photo Credit: Frances F. Denny

Stephen McCauley
Stephen McCauley

Stephen McCauley

Stephen McCauley is the author of eight novels, including You Only Call When You're in TroubleThe Object of My Affection, True Enough, and Alternatives to Sex. Many have been national bestsellers, and three have been made into feature films. His fiction, reviews, and articles have appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, Harper’s, Vogue, and many other publications. He currently serves as Co-Director of Creative Writing at Brandeis University and was named a Chevalier in the Order of Arts and Letters by the French Ministry of Culture.

Photo Credit: Sharona Jacobs

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