Savage Joy: Robert Dunn with Nancy Franklin and Lois Metzger

In 1976, author Robert Dunn moved to New York City, scored a $90-a-month East Village apartment, and got hired at The New Yorker magazine. This life-changing good fortune forms the foundation of Savage Joy, Dunn’s most autobiographical novel yet. Cole Whitman straddles his uptown literary world and the budding Lower Manhattan punk scene. When an apartment in his building at 340 East 11th Street opens up, musician Slater Martin moves in, sweeping Cole along into his CBGBs world. Also moving into 340 is Cole’s elegant and mysterious literary editor pal Emily Prosser, whom Cole desires unrequitedly. Cole needs a girlfriend, Slater needs a new band, Emily needs a new life. Together the three of them, along with a fiery female drummer called Sailor and a dweeby bassist, Wendell Walter, get a new punk group going, named, by Cole, Savage Joy. What follows among the five of them is both joyful and savage, a feast of love, music, sex, violence, blood, and madness.


Robert Dunn came to NYC forty years ago to become a novelist. Now he’s written a book about his first few years here, Savage Joy. (His first night in the city he saw Leonard Bernstein conduct for free in Central Park!) Since then he’s taught fiction writing at the New School for 30-plus years, worked for The New Yorker and Sports Illustrated magazines, was Bernard Malamud’s assistant for the last years of his life, and published in The New YorkerThe Atlantic, and won an O. Henry Short Story Prize. His novels include Pink CadillacMeet the Annas, and Stations of the Cross. He’s also a photographer, with work in an ICP show and books in numerous museums.

Nancy Franklin was on the staff of The New Yorker from 1978 to 2011. She worked as a typist, fact-checker, and nonfiction editor. For eight years she was a theatre critic, and she spent her last thirteen years as the magazine's television critic. 

Lois Metzger was born in Queens, New York City.  She is the author of five young adult novels, including A Trick of the Light (HarperCollins 2013; starred review, Publishers Weekly), and Change Places with Me (HarperCollins 2016; starred review, Booklist).  She is also the author of two nonfiction books about the Holocaust, and has edited five anthologies of short stories.  She has had many jobs, including working at The New Yorker’s typing pool with Bob Dunn and Nancy Franklin.