Ellen Frankfort, The Voice: Life at the Village Voice (Morrow, 1976)
Despite author Ellen Frankfort's often melodramatic writing style and overly psychologized language, The Voice does an admirable job of depicting the trajectory of the country's most famous weekly.
In her introduction, Frankfort quotes former Village Voice editor Dan Wolf (whose persona is the point on which Frankfort's entire book pivots) as saying the Voice was just "one big unhappy family." Disputes over pay and the direction of the Voice's coverage bred conflict in the late 60's and early 70's, the time at the paper Frankfort documents closely (coinciding with her own tenure as a writer there from 1968-1973).
Frankfort, now deceased, was a leading feminist in the 60's and 70's who wrote extensively on women's rights. In emulation of Wolf's comment, she structures her book along familial lines: "The Death of a Favorite Son," corresponds to the death of 60's Voice writer Don McNeil, whose brief career at the Voice and premature death (which Frankfort fails to make clear, but implies was a suicide) affected Wolf deeply. In "The Daughters Speak," Frankfort devotes a chapter each to four disenfranchised women writers at the Voice, capping the section with her own story, which, like the other women she includes, is characterized by her "loyalty to the father figure [Wolf], fiercely loyal, sacrificing all."
The book is worthwhile to journalists interested in steeping themselves in the charged political era about (and within) which Frankfort writes. Input from major Voice personalities like Robert Christgau (still with the paper as music critic) and Nat Hentoff (quoted only indirectly, but still present as a free speech crusader to be reckoned with) are engaging. Frankfort's reliance upon purple prose and family metaphors wears upon the reader, but her description of the inner workings, both editorial and financial, of an influential weekly are valuable. As the book is currently out of print, and its author deceased, commentary on The Voice is largely unavailable, aside from the occasional abstract.
Ellen Frankfort's Famous Quote