Timebends: A Life
Born in 1915, Miller grew up in Harlem in the 1920s and 1930s, developed leftist political convictions during the Great Depression, achieved moral victory against McCarthyism in the 1950s, and became president of PEN International near the end of his life, fighting for writers’ freedom of expression. Along the way, his prolific output established him as one of the greatest writers of the twentieth century—he wrote twenty-two plays, various screenplays, short stories, and essays, and won the Pulitzer Prize in 1949 for Death of a Salesmanand the New York Drama Critics Circle Award in 1947 for All My Sons. Miller also wrote the screenplay for The Misfits, Marilyn Monroe’s final film.
This memoir also reveals the incredible host of notables that populated his life, including Marilyn Monroe, Elia Kazan, Clark Gable, Sir Laurence Olivier, John F. Kennedy, and Mikhail Gorbachev. Leaving behind a formidable reputation in the worlds of theater, cinema, and politics, Arthur Miller died in 2005 but his memoir continues his legacy.
czarist court. Dowling, an otherwise generous fellow, was simply exercising the charming insensitivity of the proprietor, something Broadway would begin to see more and more of, but never perhaps on so grandly elegant and absurd a scale. Secretly, of course, I was outraged, but sufficient praise was on the way to put offense to sleep. An hour or so later, at the opening-night party, Jim Proctor grabbed my arm and pulled me to a phone. On the other end was the whispered voice of Sam Zolotow, that
democratic principles when all they knew of us was our support of right-wing dictatorships everywhere, including the Turkish military government that had put them behind bars. Some twenty of them had arranged a dinner for us in a restaurant one evening, and over food and a lot of drink a certain hostility began to appear, hard to understand when we had come here to draw world attention to their situation. One man stood up with raised glass and a mocking look and announced, “To the day when we
and I meant it. And I did, for a while. Of course there are models, avowed and surreptitious, that we mythologize and make into gods, and in enfolding their attributes into ourselves we muddy whatever character they may have really possessed. My mother’s youngest brother, Hymie, was an extremely good-looking young man of no great intelligence or imagination, yet she so loved beauty in women and handsomeness in men that Hymie excited her more than any other relative. In the style of the times he
place for the bags; a few of my customers set out lidded wooden boxes. On winter mornings the temperature was sometimes around zero at that early hour, and cats would follow me in troops, desperate for the heat of my body, rubbing urgently against my trouser legs and howling imperatively up at me, sending chills up my back with their accusations. There were mornings when Ocean Parkway, six lanes wide, was entirely covered with ice as unblemished as a frozen country pond, and occasionally there
sex and dream, of lies and invention, and above all of contradiction and surprise. Manny Newman was cute and ugly, a Pan risen out of the earth, a bantam with a lisp, sunken brown eyes, a lumpy, pendulous nose, dark brown skin, and gnarled arms. When I walked into the house, he would look at me—usually standing there in his one-piece BVD’s, carrying a hammer or a screwdriver or perhaps a shoebox filled with his collection of pornographic postcards—as though he had never seen me before or, if he