One blogger’s personal bridge to nowhere

Bernard DeVoto is coming out of the woodwork!

yearofdecision1846Who’s Bernard DeVoto? you ask [before clicking on the kindly provided Wikipedia link, that is]. I thought the same thing when I donated a dollar or two at a grocery store in Nashua, New Hampshire about a year ago for a book with his name on it, with the august title, The Year of Decision: 1846, written in 1942. And since then the book has sat, nerdily promising in a Gore Vidal sort of way, but as yet unread, on my bookshelf.

I had assumed that DeVoto was an obscure writer who had been forgotten in the 60-plus years since this book was written. But no! And then, but no again! Not only did DeVoto act as the “outside critic” for the potential publisher of the then obscure Norman Mailer’s first novel, The Naked and the Dead (he wrote a “condescending six-page critique”), but he also had some very strong opinions about martinis (one of “only two cocktails” in his mind). And finally, someone who has actually read The Year of Decision: 1846. And apparently it’s good!


February 17, 2009 - Posted by | Literature | , , ,


  1. I’ve been doing a little surfing and came across this blog. I happened to read the letter in The Washington Post about martinis and Bernard DeVoto. I didn’t read until now the original article about martinis which I find a bit on the silly side. I’m not part of “The Greatest Generation” but not a young kid either. I only drink martinis at home these days and prefer the “Winston Churchill” variant made with frozen Beefeater. I also know about them being “like breasts”, three are too many, etc.
    I had never heard of DeVoto but found a used book site and purchased a first edition of “The Year of Decision: 1846” I have now read a little over 100 pages and am getting an education with some help from Wikipedia. Hey, maybe everyone else out there knows about George Ripley, Brook Farm, the fire in the Phalanstery, American Transcendentalism, etc. But I sure didn’t. I’m enjoying the “Manifest Destiny” part too. It’s good. Check it out.

    Comment by Ray Kearns | July 23, 2009 | Reply

  2. What is the comment made by Avis DeVoto in the movie Julia and Julie about her husband, Bernard DeVoto?

    Comment by Stan | September 8, 2009 | Reply

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