Joe Gould’s diary

"Gould always claimed to be working on an immense manuscript he called “An
Oral History of Our Time.” It existed mostly as a figment of Gould’s feverish
imagination. But 11 notebooks containing 150,000 words do exist in the Fales
C0llection at New York University. Charles Hutchinson and Peter Miller described
their contents in 2000.

The diary’s 1100-odd pages are first and foremost a record of baths taken,
meals consumed, and dollars bummed. It’s clear that Gould’s favorite subject was
himself. Other people were mere bit players in the movie of his mind, and the
bustling city he lived in no more than a backdrop. Aside from a few gaps between
notebooks, virtually every day is accounted for. Gould’s painstaking attention
to everyday routines and mundane matters suggests that he had found the one
place to impose order on a life that knew little. And there is the unexpectedly
quaint touch of noting holidays and other commemorative events in the heading.
The entry for August 4, 1943, begins: “Queen Elizabeth’s Birthday. Bugs got on a
rampage. As a consequence I got up late.”

Dale Kieger