Literary Nonfiction. Memoir. Introduction by novelist Pam Durban. On the afternoon of February 24th, 1965, Amylu Danzer, a twenty-year-old art student who'd been visiting Jones Beach on Long Island, went missing. A month later, her body was swept ashore some sixteen miles away, at Far Rockaway. In this tender, courageous, and compellingly written memoir, the writer and photographer John Rosenthal looks back on his youthful friendship with Amylu, and, drawing on multiple sources—amongst them his own journals, the testimony of her family and some of the people with whom she studied, newspaper reports of her death, and the eyewitness account of one of the men who found her body—he seeks to answer some of the questions which have haunted him ever since he first learned of her death—questions which were either too easily dismissed or else were too easily answered at the time. SEARCHING FOR AMYLU DANZER is a powerful and unillusioned book, and in writing it Rosenthal has ensured that however short her life was, Amylu Danzer will not be counted as one of those "which have no memorial...and are become as though they have never been born."
"Relying on his memory of a dear friend, John Rosenthal has composed a once-in-a-lifetime reading experience. SEARCHING FOR AMYLU DANZER is funny, direct, and tantalizingly oblique; Rosenthal's dramatic study of his relationship with Amylu—and with his memory of her—is smooth, clear, and suspenseful. He masterfully shuffles time and event while weaving together photographic art, memoir, and novelistic technique. This book will knock you down in the way great books are supposed to knock you down. Skip it only if you've never lost someone you loved."—Clyde Edgerton
"As in all great life writing, the central drama in John Rosenthal's unforgettable memoir, SEARCHING FOR AMYLU DANZER, is not between self and other, but within the narrator, between a recollecting self whose horizon of vision is wide, and a recollected self whose horizon of vision is narrow. While the story of his friend's mental instability and eventual death infuse the book with all the suspense of a page turner, the real subject of this amazing story is not Amylu but Rosenthal himself, how it is he became the writer who could tell this story with such compassionate understanding, not just for Amylu, but for himself, for the young person that he was, of that time and that place."—Alan Shapiro
"Whatever it is—memoir, novel, extended prose poem, elegy—it's a beautiful book. Not a false note anywhere. Things are as they are, sometimes beautifully, sometimes sadly, sometimes simply factually. The point and pointlessness of life conjoined, as in the chance, contingent whorls of the driftwood surfaces. It left me exhilarated and depleted."—Jay Tolson
"This short book feels like something perfect. Its impossible ambition is to understand the vagaries of time and memory and loss, and in that enterprise captures something even more important, the essence of friendship: our desire to understand each other. I loved it."—Daniel Wallace
John Rosenthal was born in New York City in 1942. He received his BA from Wake Forest College in 1964, and an MA in English Literature from Columbia University in 1966. He taught English at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill until 1971 when he left teaching to become an essayist and a photographer. His work has been widely exhibited in the United States, including exhibitions at The National Humanities Center, The National Academy of Sciences in Washington D.C., and Boston's Panopticon Gallery. His articles have appeared in many journals and magazines, amongst them The Sun Magazine, Five Points and The Huffington Post. In 1998 a collection of Mr. Rosenthal's photographs, Regarding Manhattan, was published by Safe Harbor Books, and in 2015 Safe Harbor published his 2007 collection of New Orleans photographs, AFTER: The Silence of the Lower 9th Ward. In the 1990s, Mr. Rosenthal was a regular commentator on NPR's All Things Considered.Author City: CHAPEL HILL, NC USA