by Jeff Weiss | Published June 30, 2017 in The Washington Post

The 93-year-old novelist is calmly arguing for the creative advantages of hate. For the last several years, Herbert Gold sought revenge the old-fashioned way: withering lampoon and literary slander. His most recent novel, “When a Psychopath Falls in Love,” slips a fictional tint on his autobiographical tale of getting ripped off by a low-rent Bernie Madoff.

“I had a crooked lawyer friend who stole a lot of money from me, which inspired some writing,” Gold says from the rent-controlled garrison atop Russian Hill that he has surveyed for the past 56 years.

“My eldest daughter, a psychologist, said, ‘Dad, it’s not good for you to hate.’ I said, ‘It’s very good for me to hate.’ I’ve drawn that hatred into the book.” Read more.


NYT Sunday Book Review of “Still Alive! A Temporary Condition”

by Joseph Berger | Published August 29, 2008 in The New York Times

Toward the end of this reflection on his own aging and what he calls “the encroaching inevitable,” Herbert Gold, a novelist who has turned out a book every few years for more than half a century, says that writers never stop writing, are “always on the lookout for the next book.”

“Writers can’t serve 30 years and then earn release to play golf, wear a baseball cap, entertain themselves by negotiating shopping carts down the aisles of the local supermarket,” he says.

And so Gold at 84 has written another book, “Still Alive! A Temporary Condition.”It is discursive and eclectic, a gumbo not easily classifiable. A few chapters qualify as memoir, but Gold enthusiasts will be disappointed if they expect a chronicle of a life that spanned a Cleveland-area childhood, the New York Beat scene, the cafes of postwar Paris, Aquarian San Francisco and Haiti under Papa Doc. Others are in the realm of wisdom tales — linked by the theme of dying. Nevertheless, the book is worth, oh, well, its weight in gold for sev­eral chapters that are vivid and eloquent. Read more.


Herbert Gold on TV

Herbert Gold interview 1974 - Slowed down 5% by Herb's son, filmmaker Ari Gold

Ari Gold: A few weeks ago my brother Ethan found this long interview with my dad from 1974, on Youtube. It's a great interview from KQED. But what was most interesting to the family was how different this Herbert Gold seemed from the man we know now. He was always smart and quick, but there's something cocky and hyperactive in the interview that seemed more like Hugh Hefner than our dad - especially given that I now know he was right in the middle of having his heart broken. His voice also sounded younger, higher.

I decided to download the interview onto my laptop and slow it down by 5%. It was amazing: suddenly he sounded like himself: deep voice, thoughtful pauses, and more interestingly, I could feel the pain of the impending divorce, in a way that wasn't apparent in the Youtube original.

I suspect the tape was transferred at the wrong speed, somewhere along the way, and that my version (this one) is accurate. But who knows? Was he changed by the divorce into the man I now know?

(And: when US movies were switched from 24fps to 25fps in their export to Europe, what happened to the soul between the frames?)

"Herb Gold interview: 'elder statesman of the Beat Generation'"

by Julian Guthrie | Published April 18, 2014 in the San Francisco Chronicle

San Francisco writer and author Herb Gold, deemed an "elder statesman of the Beat Generation," turned 90 on March 9 and celebrated with his kids and grandkids.

From his book- and light-filled flat on Russian Hill, a one-bedroom walkup he calls his "Beatnik pad," the author of more than 20 books talked about the literary life, aging and social media. Read More.

San Francisco writer Herb Gold on writing in his Russian Hill flat.

"Herbert Gold: Belief and Craft"

by Larry R. Smith | Published in Ohioana Quarterly, Winter 1978

Herbert Gold claims good humoredly to have been described as a hyphenated writer - "a Cleveland writer, a Jewish writer, a New York writer, an expatriate writer, a San Francisco writer, a beat/hip writer, a young writer, a middle-aged writer, a sometimes-married writer, a contributor-to-quarterlies writer . . . ." He is more accurately depicted as a writer who writes, prolifically, with energy and penetrating insight. Often he is also an Ohio writer, not because he was born in Lakewood, Ohio, but because he frequently writes about, and through the perspective of, his Ohio youth.

Since his first novel, Birth of a Hero, appeared in 1951, he has been called "a writer to watch," the tenuous titles of "great" or "major" being held in critical reserve. It is time to recognize and appreciate Herbert Gold's major contribution of twenty-five years as a journalist, short-story writer, novelist, editor, and autobiographer. If Gold is still to be watched, it is because he has remained so active and alive to contemporary life. He has written incisive essays, brilliant story collections, and solid novels, and in each decade has produced a work that in truth is great - in 1955 The Man Who Was Not With It, a vivid first-person portrayal of hip carnival life; in 1967 Fathers, a powerfully human novel of the American Jewish family; and in 1972 My Last Two Thousand Years, his personal, unifying memoirs. In these books Gold has proven himself a major American talent. Read More.


2017 Video Interview • 2015 Video Interview


Herbert Gold: How I failed to meet Hemingway

by Herbert Gold | Published Sunday, January 2, 2011 in the San Francisco Chronicle

In Havana, 1959, I was camped out at theAmbos Mundos Hotel, trying to write a filmscript based on my novel "The Man Who WasNot With It." I had driven my beat-up, badly used Ford (transportation for the poverty-stricken recently divorced) to Key West and then flown to Cuba by Q Airlines (slogan: "Ten Minutes, Ten Dollars"). This was partly to escape the winter, partly to escape the temptations of the literary life of Manhattan, and partly to escape the nagging attentions of the alleged and would-be producers of the film. I hoped to work quietly in an exotic tropical world.

However, the Cuban revolution was in progress. I came upon bodies left in the streets of Havana. That was one distraction. Also, it happened that sociable George Plimpton was staying at the Ambos Mundos, heading out every morning to work on his Paris Review interview with "Papa," as Ernest Hemingway liked to be called. In the evening, upon his return from the Hemingway compound, La Finca, we would have dinner together, and he would tell me about their progress - Ernest Hemingway and George Plimpton together, composing both questions and answers. Read more. 


When the mentor's work is unread, he still pays the tab at the restaurant

by Herbert Gold | Published Tuesday, July 6, 2004 in the San Francisco Chronicle

"I just admire your writings so much," murmured the voice on the other end of the line. "Is it OK to say that? Is that the right word?"

Laboring under a yearning to gush, my caller seemed to sense that gush might lack appropriate dignity; yet, in a delicate balancing act, he figured that a light sprinkle could get the desired result from the consumer. I was the designated consumer, an "author."

He was the son-in-law of a woman I like. It was my duty to hear him out. "So tell me," he continued, "how do you get editors to publish your oo-ver?" He had read the word "oeuvre" someplace and understood that it was the polite way to refer to a writer's work. Read more. 


Dreams of Sweet Revenge and Romance

by Herbert Gold | Published Sunday, June 18, 2000 in the San Francisco Chronicle

Comes rosy-fingered dawn to a perfect summer day in San Francisco and my apartment door is politely rapped to wake me with an important message via Western Union (no fax or e-mail for dream telegrams), the messenger smartly attired with uniform, shiny cap and nose piercings.

It's a telegram from a devoted adversary of my books. God, or perhaps Willie Brown, has given him the choice of permanent confinement in the Sony Metreon Entertainment Purgatory or re-evaluating his opinions. The telegram says he is about to publish an article in the New York Review of Books about my new novel, “Daughter Mine.” Read more. 


A Writer's Paean to the Manual Typewriter

by Herbert Gold | Published Wednesday, July 19, 1995in the San Francisco Chronicle

“WHAT KIND OF word processor do you use?”

"Clay tablets and a stylus.”

Folks tend to startle up resentfully at this answer, since I am not Moses inscribing commandments on sticky wet earth. In vain do I try winsome self-deprecation as I confess that, no, I really don't write on a computer. I use typewriters -- garage sale typewriters, thrift shop typewriters, castoffs in the computational universe.

The bankruptcy of Smith-Corona, the last surviving American typewritermanufacturer, won't put me out of business. Most Saturdays and Sundays I can find a stalwart piece of obsolete machinery along with Bob Dylan LP's and divorce- surplus clothing on the sidewalks of San Francisco. During the week, if I feel a Royal or Olivetti hunger coming on, there are Goodwill, Salvation Army, and schools, hospital, or church benefit treasure shops manned (or womanned) by charming do-gooders. Read more.