‘It’s a masterpiece, of course, but more than that it shows that there is some such thing as being a simple observer’ Nicci French, Independent It was 1932 when Joseph Mitchell first came across Joe Gould, a Harvard-educated vagrant of Greenwich Village. Penniless, filthy, scurrilous, charming, thieving, Joe Gould was widely considered a genius. He was working on a book he called an Oral History – the longest book ever written he claimed, formed of recorded conversations set down in exercise books. Of course, when Gould died the great epic was nowhere to be found. This compelling portrait of a true New York eccentric, a man who embodied the disconnected, delusional nature of real life, was Mitchell’s personal enquiry into the agony of writer’s block. Joe Gould’s Secret can be found in the longer collection of Mitchell’s writing Up in the Old Hotel.