Koch, Stephen 1941-
KOCH, Stephen 1941-
PERSONAL: Surname is pronounced "coke"; born May 8, 1941, in St. Paul, MN; son of Robert Fulton (a lawyer) and Edith (Bayard) Koch. Education: Attended University of Minnesota, 1959-60; City College of the City University of New York, A.B., 1962; Columbia University, M.A., 1965. Religion: Episcopalian. Hobbies and other interests: Films and filmmaking.
CAREER: Writer. Columbia University, New York, NY, instructor in fiction writing, 1977-98.
MEMBER: Phi Beta Kappa.
Night Watch (novel), Harper, 1969.
Stargazer: Andy Warhol's World and His Films, Praeger, 1972.
The Bachelor's Bride (novel), M. Boyars (New York, NY), 1986.
(Author of essays, with Thomas Sokolowski) Peter Hujar, Grey Art Gallery and Study Center, New York University (New York, NY), 1990.
Double Lives: Spies and Writers in the Secret Soviet War of Ideas against the West, Free Press (New York, NY), 1994, published as Double Lives: Stalin, Willi Munzenberg and the Seduction of the Intellectuals, Welcome Rain (New York, NY), 2001.
The Modern Library Writer's Workshop: A Guide to the Craft of Fiction, Modern Library (New York, NY), 2003.
Author and host of "Eye-to-Eye," a television series for the Public Broadcasting System. Contributor of articles and reviews to literary journals.
SIDELIGHTS: Stephen Koch, who taught creative writing at New York City's Columbia University, has written in several genres. He is the author of novels as well as nonfiction works, the latter of which include a biography of pop-culture artist Andy Warhol, a book about spies and intellectuals during the cold war, and a guide to writing that focuses on teaching the basics in a workshop format.
One of Koch's earliest books, Stargazer: Andy Warhol's World and His Films, is a biography of artist Andy Warhol and a critique of his films. The book is a small classic study of how Warhol created his own public image couched in a strange and impassive persona. Koch had been interested in Warhol's film work for several years and wrote a 1971 article about the film Chelsea Girls for Artforum International. The article became a central chapter in Stargazer. In a September, 2001, article in Artforum International, contributor Eric C. Banks noted that Koch's article firmly placed Warhol's work in context. Banks noted, "The filmmaker is seen to lay claim to the strong current of modernism in the avant-garde cinema of the period, a claim that entails both continuity with and development of the work of exemplary predecessors and a squaring with the aesthetic issues of the day. That Koch did so with style was no mean feat."
Koch is also the author of two widely translated novels, 1969's Nightwatch and 1986's The Bachelor's Bride. The latter novel takes place in New York's Greenwich Village and SoHo in the late 1960s. The story revolves around a talented painter, Mel Dworkin, whose work explodes onto the New York art scene but who has dubious moral values and manipulates people. As told through the eyes of the character Jason Phillips, an art historian and critic, the book provides an inside look at a time when Pop and New Wave art and design in New York had reached its pinnacle in terms of popularity and cultural influence.
Koch later turned his attention to the Russian Revolution and the ensuing ideological battle between the United States and the Soviet Union, which to led the cold war of the 1950s and beyond. In Double Lives: Spies and Writers in the Secret Soviet War of Ideas against the West, later published as Double Lives: Stalin, Willi Munzenberg and the Seduction of the Intellectuals, Koch talks about "soft" Soviet penetration into the West by manipulating key government, public, and private figures and institutions. He outlines how longtime German Communist Willi Munzenberg helped to orchestrate an army of agents to bolster the Communist cause by "persuasion." In a review on the American Enterprise Institute Web site, Mark Falcoff wrote, "In Koch's telling, Munzenberg's particular genius was to recognize how ostensibly nonpolitical attitudes and impulses among Western intellectuals, clergy, artists, and also society leaders, businessmen, and politicians could be put to use for covert Soviet purposes."
After teaching writing for twenty-one years at Columbia University and serving for a time as the writing department chairman, Koch left Columbia and subsequently published a guide about the writing craft. In The Modern Library Writer's Workshop: A Guide to the Craft of Fiction, Koch takes his years of teaching experience and the wisdom of other great writers concerning their craft and produces a book for both beginners and professionals who want to get back to the basics. In an article for the Writer, Chuck Leddy called the book "accessible, concise and highly informative." Leddy quoted Koch as saying the book is "an effort to assemble and integrate what I believe amounts to something like a consensus among writers about the basics of their craft." In the guide, Koch covers everything from making the time to write to grappling with the concepts and complexities of plot, character, and structure and conflict. Herbert E. Shapiro, writing in Library Journal, noted, "This very readable book will appeal not only to serious fiction writers but also to all students of literature."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Koch, Stephen, The Modern Library Writer's Workshop: A Guide to the Craft of Fiction, Modern Library (New York, NY), 2003.
Artforum International, September, 2001, Eric C. Banks, "September 1971," p. 52.
Booklist, April 15, 2003, Kristine Huntley, review of The Modern Library Writer's Workshop, p. 1422.
Library Journal, February 15, 2003, Herbert E. Shapiro, review of The Modern Library Writer's Workshop, p. 145.
Writer, October, 2003, Chuck Leddy, review of The Modern Library Writer's Workshop, p. 44.
American Enterprise Institute, http://www.aei.org/ (January 1, 1994), Mark Falcoff, review of Double Lives: Spies and Writers in the Secret Soviet War of Ideas against the West.
Freedom Daily, http://www.fff.org/freedom/0794e.asp/ (July, 1994), Richard M. Ebeling, review of Double Lives.*