Writing the Oral History of Our Time

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Nearly everything Gould ever held in his hands slipped away. He lost his glasses; he lost his teeth. “I keep losing fountain pens, change, and even manuscripts,” he wrote. “I lost my diary in the toilet,” he reported one day. He himself appeared and disappeared.

Joe Gould “was a toothless madman who slept in the street” and attempted to write “The Oral History of Our Time,” jotting down whatever he was told by anyone in countless notebooks. Though only a few of his manuscripts didn’t get lost over the years, Jill Lepore profiles Gould and his unbelievable story over at the New Yorker.


Guia Cortassa was born, lives, and works in Milan, Italy. After working as a Contemporary Art curator, she went back to writing. She is a contributing editor for Ondarock and her writing has appeared on Rivista Studio, Flair and the Quietus. She compulsively tweets @gcmorvern. More from this author →