Read Angels on Toast by Dawn Powell Online


Two dubious businessmen attempt to outwit their wives, mistresses, and hangers-on....

Title : Angels on Toast
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780679726869
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 273 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Angels on Toast Reviews

  • Sketchbook
    2019-01-09 00:14

    Dawn Powell said she started writing as a youngster because "there was no one to talk to." Arriving in NYC from Ohio in 1918 she continued writing -- 15 novels and plays -- until her death in 1965. A worldling who scorned notions of Love, Marriage, the Family, she dissects Manhattan in a whizzy, plotless Altmanesque manner : hers is a bruising comedy of infidelities and double-dealing. "Never do anything you can't deny," announces a social-climbing sport. This sets the tone for a tough but vulnerable writer who supported an alcoholic husby and retarded child yet managed lovers. Reflecting her own life, Powell has no time for sentiment when strychnine is needed for survival."What good is reason when the heart is out of order," ponders the wife of a selfish businessman who never coos Sweet Dreams to anyone. "Doctor," she wants to say, "I think I'm goingsane ." Powell, with savage wit that tops Dot Parker, adds : "It is as sad to stop loving as it is to stop being loved."The story focuses on 2 philandering husbys ("Do what you please, but keep up the marriage front"), their inept wives ("Here was a woman you'd never tire of, because there was not enough of her to tire of"), and their needy mistresses ("Maybe you didn't want a husband or father or a child or a dog but you did have to havesomething.") Despite the highest praise from Edmund Wilson, Powell never won popularity. Why? Easy to answer. Readers, mostly midcult stiffs, want at least one Feelgood character. Powell refuses to deliver. Her satire stings. On my word of honor says the unsparing Powell, you are as insane as anybody in the room.

  • Bailey Alexander
    2019-01-21 20:18

    Gore Vidal just couldn't believe how funny Dawn Powell was, how witty her writing; after reading her entire oeuvre, after knowing her personally in the 50's while still lingering in his 20’s, Gore Vidal couldn't quite believe how one woman could have contained all that wit. He decided it must have something to do with the fact Dawn spent most of her early life singing for her supper while being shuffled in between mid-western boarding houses until she landed in New York. But boy, once she landed in Manhattan and began to write about the place; do not doubt for one minute Dawn Powell did not own and write about New York at a certain time, better than anyone before or since. One of many a clever device was her ability to make Manhattan read like a character. In Angels in Toast, it's not unlike watching Hitchcock treat 'Old San Fran' as a central character in “Vertigo”. Dawn Powell, in Angels on Toast, writes about Manhattan as if the city were yet character on the make, on the take and hustling it hard like the rest of her perfectly drawn characters. Her writing and her wit not only keep a smile stapled to your lips as you read how the middle class truly operate but its so hard-boiled you feel just a bit embarrassed by how much you enjoy laughing at yourself. After you finish the novel and close the book, I guarantee you’ll there looking out in space, imagining how the characters continue to live out their lives, if only in your mind. It can’t end, so you'll just sit there, stubbornly at first, then quietly let your own imagination finish away... As Edmund Wilson once said about Dawn Powell's style; 'wit gives the game away, wit blows the cool off those who are forever expressing a sense of choked up outrage'. And when deployed by a woman with her kind of surgical calm, it's like a brutal assault upon nature. I paraphrase but you get his drift. Dawn may not be a romantic but that doesn't mean she can't break your heart, and she just may, most likely on page 185: "It was frightening to wake up in the morning and know that love did not last, no matter how it was treated. Even a shrew, nagging, ragging, bullying and deprecating the husband out of sheer discontent with her own dream of him, must believe it can go on forever, and must be bewildered when, at a kind glance from some gentler woman, he leaves. People think relationships are made of rubber and stretch and give in to every crisis, and it is a shock to find they can snap in two like a glass thermometer. Why should anyone feel that a great truth is hidden from him when it is written all over the sky that nothing is permanent. Reading Dawn Powell is like reading in a dream state. "My favorite Dawn Powell Quote: Satire is people as they are; romanticism, people as they would like to be; realism, people as they seem with their insides left out." Unfortunately this ticked off the NY literati when Dawn was trying to hustle her work, alas, she's still laughing somewhere and we get to laugh right alongside, lucky we are to be breathing, imbibing her genius. She insisted we laugh, above all, at ourselves. Now it's time for another Dawn Powell; this time: The Happy Island.

  • Sonya
    2019-01-13 22:20

    It's uncanny when you read a novel that transcends its plot and becomes something else, all in the space of just a handful of pages. "Angels on Toast" is just that kind of literary sustenance, much more a meal than, say, what seems in comparison to be a vapid moment-in-time book, the current social novels I've read recently like "The Emporer's Children" or "All We Ever Wanted Was Everything," novels that offer crumbs of insight and only scant entertainment. I've heard of but had never read any of Dawn Powell's work until I bought this title, and I can see now why she engendered a loyal following. "Angels on Toast" manages to be several things at once: it is a prescient critique of the rise of business and how from that ascent the American Dream is spun from vapor but ultimately falls flat; it is a psychological gender study that examines the plight of the white collar man, his harping and tragic wife (or wives), and the lures of the manipulative but self-preserving mistress. These characters might be stock in the mind of a lesser writer, but Powell achieves, with flair, to painstakingly mold the individual worlds of each of the three main characters so that the stock situation, when met by society's expectations, renders something far beyond a traditional American tragedy or even a comedy of manners. If you're tempted to try "Angels on Toast," pay attention to Powell's focus on light, how it enters the room, how it shines on or evades the scene, whether its source is from nature or incandescence. The lights help us piece together the novel's mysteries of love and desire, even as they are unraveled and laid bare right in front of our eyes.

  • A
    2019-01-07 18:21

    Strongly recommended as a first book if you are looking for a gateway drug into the cult of Dawn Powell (which you should be if you haven't already been inducted into it). I deeply respected the other Dawn Powell novels I've read, but I didn't love them: her surgically cruel view of humanity felt too cruel, too relentless after a while; there was neither enough wit to lighten the mood nor enough heart to deepen it and give it stakes that felt worth reading. This book finally changed that for me. The characters are probably the most mercilessly unpleasant I've ever encountered in a Powell novel (which is saying a lot), but for once Powell's uproarious style had me laughing with them (rather than at them) throughout, while her relentless insights simultaneously left me feeling a very tender pity for their desperately pathetic and utterly American striving.

  • Mike
    2019-01-11 17:11

    I read Angels on Toast en route to Barcelona on a plane. At first I considered this an okay read, but it grew on me the more and more I realized how deftly and brutally Dawn Powell elaborates on the lives of people whose business savviness and corporate ambition often leave a string of romantic failures. She makes the case that the drive it takes to conquer the former will devastate the latter if applied to love and sex. That the book closes on Lou downgrading his class status in response to the devastation of his personal life is very telling about his error in acting like his behavior in both ought to be identical.As I am traveling and can´t elaborate much further, I feel the jokes in Angels on Toast come not as frequently, but are still solid; there are moments where it seems Powell is emulating a hard-boiled style, and the book finishes after it feels like it´s stayed its welcome. Plus a few issues with coincidence, it is an okay read that grows on the reader over time.

  • Jonathan Lippincott
    2019-01-13 18:15

    Among Dawn Powell's best -- chapter five alone reads like the best short story written about a certain kind of life in New York City; up there with Breakfast at Tiffany's. A ranging cast of characters, perfectly described and deployed.

  • Whitaker
    2018-12-30 18:12

    A really great book shows us how everything is great and worth to die for

  • Robin Friedman
    2019-01-11 19:29

    A Satire Of BusinessDawn Powell published "Angels on Toast" in 1940 to generally favorable reviews but poor sales. She rewrote the book, shortening and softening its satire, in 1956 under the title "A Man's Affair". She also wrote a TV script based on the book called "You should have brought your mink". The book has been reissued several times, all in the original 1940 version.When the book first appeared, the critic Diana Trilling wrote a negative review. She observed that Powell was a writer of great gifts and style who, in "Angels on Toast", had wasted her talents on utterly frivolous, valueless people and scenes. On reading the book, I can understand Trilling's reaction. The book isn't one of Powell's best, but its scenes are sharply-etched and entertaining. As I have frequently found in Powell's novels, the book works better in parts than as a whole, even though the story line of "Angels on Toast" is generally clear and coherent.The story is basically a satire of American business in the later 1930s with the scene shifting back and forth from Chicago to New York City. The two main protagonists are businessmen, Lou Donovan and his best friend, a less successful businessman named Jay Oliver. The two characters are pretty well differentiated from each other although both remain one-dimensional. The activities of Lou and Jay can be summarized in three terms: moneymaking, drinking and wenching. As are virtually all the characters in the book, Lou and Jay are out for the main chance in their endless trips to New York. They engage in unending bouts of hard drinking. Their sexual affairs, and the deceits they paractice on their wives and mistresses take up at least as much time as the business and the booze. Jay's mistreess is a woman named Elsie while Lou is involved with a mysterious woman named Trina Kameray. Both give just as good as they get. It is difficult to think of a book where the entire cast of characters are crass, materialistic, on the make, without sense of value. Powell portrays them sharply.I found the book less successful than Powell's other New York novels. I think this is because the book satirizes American business and Powell clearly has less sympathy with business than she does with the subjects of her satire in her other novels. Her other books generally deal with dissilusioned wannabe artists in Grenwich Village, with writers, nightclub entertainers, frustrated musicians, and writers resisting the tide of commercialism. Powell has knowledge of the lives of such people and sympathy with at least some of their ideals. This gives a touch of ambivalence and poignancy to the satire. But in "Angels on Toast", she shows no real knowledge and no sympathy to the world of business. This, I think, makes the satire shrill and too one-sided. Also, the business world is satirized in essentially the same terms as the various components of New York society Powell satirizes in her other books -- i.e. the characters are egotistical in the extreme, heavy drinkers (always), and sexually promiscuous and unfaithful.Some of the individual scenes in the book are well-done. In particular, I enjoyed Powell's descriptions of a fading old New York Hotel, called the Ellery and its guests and the patrons at its bar. There are a few good scenes of train travel in the 1930's, and much sharp, punchy dialogue. The book held my interest.The characters are crass and one-dimensional. Powell refers to some of her minor characters repeatedly by offensive nicknames such as "the snit", "the floozie" and "the punk", which certainly don't show much attempt at a sympathetic understanding of people. The book is sharp, cutting, and more so that Powell's other books, overwhelmingly negative towards its protagonists.This book has its moments. The writing style and the details are enjoyable, but the satire is too one-dimensional and heavy-handed. Although the book is worth knowing, it is one of Dawn Powell's lesser efforts.Robin Friedman

  • Rick
    2018-12-25 21:11

    This novel by Dawn Powell was very well done. Set in NYC, Chicago and a few other places in the USA during the Spanish Civil War it tracks the comings and goings of two hard boiled, hard drinking, womanizing businessman as they try to make money and pick up women, while keeping their wives at bay. Powell is brutal in her assessment of the character flaws of all her creations but the book crackles with sharp dialogue and great set pieces. One feels that you are actually in the gin mills, and nightclubs of 1938 NYC. In many ways times and behaviors have changed but the anachronistic characters carry the same hopes and conflicts of modern men and women. The two male leads are examples of how the hunter gets captured by the game.

  • Patrick Murtha
    2019-01-17 20:30

    Young businessmen on the make don't change much over the decades, so this entertaining and insightful novel hasn't loss a bit of its relevance - it's "period" and evergreen at the same time. Aficionados of menswear will have a grand time reading this book, from the very first page where the guys are discussing clocked socks and pink shirts with detachable white collars.

  • Rita
    2018-12-25 16:29

    A delicious little read. Why? Because these two salesmen think they're such Casanovas That they can get away with treating their wives any old way they want, and you're just biding your time, enjoying this crafting of lousy characters and waiting for them to get enough rope to hang themselves.

  • Cindy Wyatt
    2019-01-17 17:34

    Fairly unpleasant book about philandering businessmen

  • Karina Vargas
    2019-01-07 20:38

    Angels on Toast: 3,5 estrellas.Lou Donnovan y Jay Oliver son dos hombres de negocios, y cuentan con lo que ellos considerarían una buena vida. Tienen dinero, tienen emprendimientos, familias y amigos, y también tienen algunos secretos. Ambos engañan a sus mujeres, pero claro que Lou siempre está un paso más adelante. A diferencia de Jay, él nunca se enreda con una misma chica, sino que lo mantiene casual. Así, no hay ninguna posibilidad de ser atrapado. Aunque no parezca, respeta mucho a su esposa Mary, una mujer con clase, diferente al resto, que jamás se entromete en sus asuntos. Por eso tampoco le ha comentado sobre su primer matrimonio ni piensa hacerlo, pese a que su ex mujer ha regresado a la ciudad recientemente. Pero nada de eso es un problema; incluso cuando él comete algunos errores, sabe cómo resolverlo y salir airoso de la situación. Sin embargo, cuando Trina Kameray aparece en escena, las cosas dejan de ser predecibles, y ello sí puede ser un problema.Si bien creo que se trata de una buena historia, entretenida y, como siempre, bien escrita, debo decir que esperaba un poco más. La temática es básicamente la misma: hombres que engañan a sus esposas. Claro que eso no significa que sea simple. Pues hay varios personajes femeninos como para apreciar las distintas personalidades y tabúes de la época. Desde aquellas mujeres que lo critican todo, lo ven todo y son independientes, aquellas que comienzan a abrir los ojos, hasta las que se encuentran en la compleja lucha interna por querer abrirlos. Es un feminismo muy incipiente, pero da gusto reconocerlo.Pronto la trama se torna semejante un a círculo vicioso del que no es fácil salir, más todavía cuando no podés comprender cómo o por qué llegaste allí. No estoy segura de que la perspectiva de la narración sea certera. Powell se introduce en un mundo de hombres y en sus pensamientos para relatar gran parte del libro. Sospecho que en ciertas ocasiones la visión femenina actuó como interferencia (no sé si los hombres están tan atentos a detalles de la moda, por ejemplo). Igualmente, dejo el beneficio de la duda.La razón por la que no le puse un mejor puntaje consiste en que, como me ha pasado en otras de sus obras, la extensión de la problemática me pareció demasiado. Por momentos, se volvía denso y repetitivo, ya que eran las mismas actitudes y hechos una y otra vez, sólo que con un ámbito diferente.La descripción de las escenas es muy buena, eso nunca sería una crítica. El estilo de la escritura no se pierde.En Angels on Toast, una novela bastante peculiar y monotemática en mi opinión, Powell nos presenta personajes que llevan una doble vida (aunque sea un secreto a voces): por un lado son hombres casados y exitosos, y por el otro son sujetos que no pueden esperar a separarse e irse con sus amantes. En paralelo, las mujeres también deben decidir si eligen negar la situación y ser humilladas, o reconocerlo y hacer algo al respecto. Es algo muy exasperante para el lector, más aún en estos tiempos, cuando dichas cuestiones son cotidianas. Una vez más, es el ego y el orgullo quienes manejan las conductas, sólo hay que fingir ante los demás, porque eso es lo importante. Sin embargo, no se puede pretender para siempre y entonces la realidad emerge.

  • Aektare
    2019-01-04 19:16

    Jay Oliver and Lou Donovan are friends. They like making money, getting drunk and cheating on their wives.Lou married above his station. He loathes and wants to impress his wife's family with his ambition and acquired wealth. They aren't impressed by that sort of thing or his sort of people. We follow these two, along with spouses, friends and lovers as they partake in cheap thrills, instant gratification and live lives of mutual envy. We go along for the ride on their sordid benders, loveless and/or manipulative relationships, carnal and financial conquests. Social life in the 1940s seems like a sad affair, with cynical, functional alcoholics content to drunkenly bump into each other and cause major life upheavals before sweeping it all under the rug the next day. If the point here is to satirize the aspirational classes or to expose the harsh realities of an illusory world, there's not much glamour there to begin with to be disillusioned from. Powell sets realistic scenes and the dialogue is witty and believable but something either is missing to keep the characters from becoming flesh and blood or they were never all than interesting to begin with. There is a lot of resignation to one's fate and surrender to one's passions but that singular persistent drive to self-destruction keeps the characters at the level of one-note caricatures, despite their doubts, awareness or motivations being occasionally spelled out to the reader. Maybe that is the point of satire- to exaggerate the behavior- but i found the sum of its parts to be more a tepid bore than a wry comedy of manners.

  • Laura
    2019-01-11 22:16

    Dawn Powell is one of America's great, forgotten authors, but, unlike many others, she has been resurrected and reprinted thanks to efforts by Gore Vidal and, her biographer, Tim Page. Powell presents a social satire or pre-World War II America in "Angels on Toast". While she flips between Chicago and New York, this is really a New York novel. We have promoters, eccentrics, wives, and lovers all out to get what they want, for better or worse. Powell's insight and wit make for an entertaining read.

  • Jim Leckband
    2019-01-09 22:23

    Angels on Toast was fun to read - a lot of Dorothy Parker worthy zingers and observations. The essential conceit of the characters is that they are never satisfied with what they have and when they get what they want - they find it isn't what they wanted. This is an old plot device (see Arabian Nights among others) but what saves it are the characters. F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote "The Beautiful and Damned", his contemporary Dawn Powell could have subtitled this one "The Wacky and Sordid"!

  • Rob
    2019-01-03 21:09

    Is this Powell's best novel? Hard to say, but in any case it's marvelous. She is uniquely perceptive, and details all the ways in which human beings can deceive themselves while simultaneously failing to deceive others. And, she's hilarious. The drollest prose this side of Raymond Chandler, each page is stuffed with the sort of witticisms that have you laughing out loud.

  • Sam Reaves
    2019-01-14 17:27

    Sharp social satire from a forgotten novelist with a cult following. New York society on the eve of World War II, businessmen on the make and their wives, mistresses, rivalries, shenanigans, disasters... Funny and merciless.

  • Christopher Sutch
    2019-01-16 20:17

    Powell's eighth novel, and first published by Scribner's, is kind of a letdown from the terrific _Turn, Magic Wheel_. There are complex subtleties at work in the prose and the plot, and several moments are quite funny, but overall it seems a less satisfying novel than Powell's other works.

  • Ernest
    2019-01-18 00:15

    Dawn Powell is an author I really enjoy reading but this is the least of her books in my opinion.I didn't like, or hate, anyone in the story. I just didn't care. They seemed to deserve any misery that befell them and maybe miseries that they dodged.

  • Mike
    2019-01-07 17:13

    This book is a great look into the late 20's world of NYC advertising and business. I learned a lot about how life worked back then, the trials and tribulations unmarried women past a 'certain age.' The style is very flip by today's standards, but very readable.

  • Betty Kaye
    2018-12-23 19:25

    I enjoyed the writing at first but it just went on with the same thing over and over - got boring. It is set in the 1920's or so - big shot men their wives, their mistresses, their business in Chicago and New York.

  • Mark
    2018-12-25 18:30

    Am fast becoming a Dawn Powell cult member. This one was funnier and ultimately sadder than LOCUSTS. More tightly woven but less romantic. Loved the focus on Chicago and places other than NYC. Highly recommended.

  • Nicola6
    2018-12-25 16:27

    Possibly the only under-rated New York author ever....

  • Stephanie Crawford
    2019-01-15 18:14

    Amazing dialogue and prose about the last people you'd want to be trapped in a room with.

  • Julie
    2019-01-02 19:22

    Great characters and atmostphere... low on plot.

  • Ste
    2019-01-04 20:15

    I haven't actually finished it, because really I couldn't care less. I kept going for 218 pages and again, I couldn't care less. Bye.

  • Friedrick
    2019-01-12 20:24

    Dawn Powell's books, like Angels On Toast, are perfect antidotes for everything else I read.

  • Cynthia
    2018-12-28 23:17

    Snappy writing but the characters were unlikeable.

  • Anna
    2018-12-27 23:09

    Terrific book. Great, old-school type of story.