Milking the Moon by Eugene Walter
A Southerner's Story of Life on This Planet

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Synopsis

“I’ve had a great life, and it all happened because I didn’t plan any of it.”
-- Eugene Walter

Eugene Walter was the best-known man you’ve never heard of. In his 76 years, he ate of “the ripened heart of life,” to quote a letter from Isak Dinesen, one of his many illustrious friends. He savored the porch life of his native Mobile, Alabama, in the 1920s and ’30s. He stumbled into the Greenwich Village art scene in late-1940s New York. He was a ubiquitous presence in Paris’s expatriate café society in the 1950s, where he was part of the Paris Review at its inception. Perhaps most remarkably of all for a poor Southern boy, he spent the 1960s in Rome, where he participated in the golden age of Italian cinema–including a role in Fellini’s 8 1?2–and entertained some of the most famous people in the world.

As recorded by Katherine Clark toward the end of Walter’s life, his story–enlivened with personal glimpses of luminaries from William Faulkner and Martha Graham to Judy Garland and Leontyne Price–is an eyewitness history of the heart of the last century and a pitch-perfect addition to the Southern literary tradition. Most of all, this sumptuous oral biography conveys the spirit and charm of a truly unique American who defied the odds and authority, embarked on life, and went wherever his fancy and whimsy led him.

“Whenever I found myself in the presence of Eugene Walter, I thought that everyone’s life could be turned into a work of art. His was. Eugene Walter was a prince of whimsy and magic, and he turned his daily world upside down and made it elfin, cat-haunted, and hilarious. He could snap his fingers, and art would fall out all over the place. Milking the Moon has perfect pitch and flawlessly captures Eugene’s pixilated wonderland of a life. I am so grateful to Katherine Clark for the job she has done, for bringing this incredible man’s story to the page with such wit, panache, and style. I love this book–I couldn’t put it down!”–Pat Conroy

“Truman Capote lied to harm others; Eugene Walter, sometimes known as the other Capote, the good one, lied only to delight others.”–Gore Vidal

“Eugene Walter held the nearest thing to a salon; he was an unofficial reception committee and all roads led to him.”–Muriel Spark

“Eugene Walter is one of those personages who turn up in life and leave, well, an indelible impression in which all personal characteristics–manner, speech, dress, and so on– are memorably distinctive.”–George Plimpton, from the Foreword
 

About Eugene Walter

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Katherine Clark is the author of Motherwit: An Alabama Midwife’s Story. She lives in New Orleans and is a professor of literature at Dillard University.
 
Published August 21, 2001 by Crown. 320 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Milking the Moon

The New York Times

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He never allowed the facts to get in the way of a good story.'' Clark successfully resurrects Walter as a raconteur of apparently boundless talents -- but the writer he was remains largely hidden, an unfortunate consequence of Clark's emphasis...

Nov 18 2001 | Read Full Review of Milking the Moon: A Southerne...

Publishers Weekly

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"I'm just a Southern boy let loose in the big world," declares Walter in his delightful oral autobiography, the culmination of months of talks with literature professor Clark (Motherwit: An Alabama Midwife's Story).

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BookPage

ss you've spent some time in Mobile, Alabama, or were a member of the literati during his years in New York, Paris and Rome, chances are you've never heard of raconteur Eugene Walter.

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