Contemporary publishing, e-media, and writing owe much to an unsung hero who worked in the trenches of the culture industry (for pulp magazines, Hollywood films, and advertising) and caroused and collaborated with the avant-garde throughout the first half of the twentieth century. Robert Carlton Brown (1886–1959) turned up
in the midst of virtually every significant American literary, artistic, political, and popular or countercultural movement of his time—from Chicago’s Cliff Dweller’s Club to Greenwich Village’s bohemians and the Imagist poets; from the American vanguard expatriate groups in Europe to the Beats. Bob Brown churned out pulp fiction and populist cookbooks, created the first movie tie-ins, and invented a surreal reading machine more than seventy-five years ahead of e-books. He was a real-life Zelig of modern culture.
With The Amazing Adventures of Bob Brown, Craig Saper disentangles, for the first time, the many lives and careers of the intriguing figure behind so much of twentieth-century culture. Saper’s lively and engaging yet erudite and subtly experimental style offers a bold new approach to biography that perfectly complements his multidimensional subject. Readers are brought along on a spirited journey with Bob and the Brown clan—Cora (his mother), Rose (his wife), and Bob, a creative team who sometimes went by the name of CoRoBo—through globetrotting, fortune-making and fortune-spending, culture-creating and culture-exploring adventures. Along the way, readers meet many of the most important cultural figures and movements of the era and are witness to the astonishingly prescient vision Brown held of the future of American cultural life in the digital age.
Although Brown traveled and lived all around the world, he took Manhattan with him, and his New York City had boroughs around the world.