Margot Mifflin
January 17, 1992 AT 05:00 AM EST

Aller Retour New York

Current Status
In Season
Henry Miller
New Directions
Essays, Nonfiction

We gave it an A

Henry Miller began this bawdy, philosophical, 77-page letter to his friend Alfred Perles during a visit to New York in 1935, the year after Tropic of Cancer was published. For Miller, who honed his literary style in letters, the episodic Aller Retour New York functions as a springboard for Tropic of Capricorn (1939), which he’d already drafted in his imagination: ”It’s the story of being alone on the earth and hungry most of the time, hungry not for food and sex merely, but for everything.” But as an uproarious critique of America — with its ugly architecture, hard women, and weak coffee — Aller Retour foreshadows Miller’s The Air-Conditioned Nightmare (1945). By letter’s end, Miller is back in his beloved Paris, feeling the ”profound contentment” America denied him. Out of print since 1945, this is a central document of Miller’s picaresque life. A

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