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Archive for the ‘biography’ Category

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For those who love biographies, and especially biographies of artists,
this is a gem. During his lifetime, Joseph Cornell rose to international
acclaim for his enigmatic collage boxes. Solomon paints a picture of a
man just as mysterious as his art. -jdavis

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Alison Bechdel, best known for her comic strip, has taken on a serious biographical graphic novel here with beautifully drawn, often poignant results.  As a librarian, I’ll always be a fan of DTWOF — one of the main characters recently finished library school — as well as this book.  “This work is as forcefully felt a memoir as any yet published in comics, but more than this, it has a strong claim to being the single most culturally sophisticated work yet produced in this genre.” – Minneapolis Star-Tribune

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“Likely to replace R. W. B. Lewis’ groundbreaking Edith Wharton (1975) as the definitive biographical treatment, because of new sources (as well as the author’s sensitive interpretation of these sources), Lee’s tremendous biography of one of the most important American writers rises to landmark status, the same level achieved by her previous Virginia Woolf (1997). Generally thought of as the grand dame of American letters, Edith Wharton grew up and married in New York City high society and subsequently wrote about that milieu. Her popular image as handed down from her generation onward is that of a character from the pages of her own fiction: a grand, stiff society matron. But the formidable Mrs. Wharton is given great humanity here. Lee conducts an enlightening exploration of the rarefied yet, ironically, provincial and narrow world of Wharton’s formative years, which were undergoing a “jostle of social forces” between old and new money. Those very conflicts supplied her with the material she exploited throughout her long career. Upon her sad marriage, which eventually ended in divorce, Lee casts sympathetic and clarifying light. And in weighing Wharton’s considerable time spent living in Europe, Lee brings to the fore Wharton’s continued American consciousness.” – Booklist Reviews

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This is a biography of Porfirio Rubirosa the iconic Latin Lover, gigolo, playboy of the 1940s , 50s and 60s. “Rubi” as he was known to international and cafe society and the sensational press of the time was the husband of Barbara Hutton, Doris Duke and the French Actress Danielle Darrieux. The author goes well beyond this tabloid froth, however, to examine Rubirosa’s background and more importantly his love/hate relationship with Rafael Trujillo, the long time dictator of his native Dominican Republic, and father of the first of his five wives. A member of the Dominican diplomatic service during much of his adult life, Rubirosa was both admired and despised at home for his swashbuckling lifestyle, and headline grabbing pursuit of beautiful women. Less well known is his role as a go-between for Trujillo with the Kennedys in the early 1960s and his service as ambassador in Havana as Castro was siezing power in 1958-59. Rubirosa’s 1965 death at the wheel of his Ferrari, in Paris’ Bois de Boulogne ended both a life and a way of life which could probably not be repeated today. A fascinating book for those who remember the era, and a look at an time so close and yet distant for those who do not.

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Spiegelman, a stalwart of the underground comics scene of the 1960s and ’70s, interviewed his father, Vladek, a Holocaust survivor living outside New York City, about his experiences. The artist then deftly translated that story into a graphic novel. By portraying a true story of the Holocaust in comic form–the Jews are mice, the Germans cats, the Poles pigs, the French frogs, and the Americans dogs–Spiegelman compels the reader to imagine the action, to fill in the blanks that are so often shied away from. Reading Maus, you are forced to examine the Holocaust anew. — amazon.com

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In this feminist classic, Kim Chernin tells the brave and ultimately triumphant story of Rose Chernin, Russian immigrant and passionate Old Left activist, and her daughter Kim, the narrator of this riveting memoir of conflict, confrontation, and reconciliation among four generations of Chernin women. — book description

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 “Only a remarkable life course could transform a devout nun into a sophisticated iconoclast. Armstrong here recounts precisely such a journey with an unflinching honesty that exposes unanticipated ironies in her personal metamorphosis…Even among readers who embrace doctrines Armstrong dismisses…this candid memoir will clarify thinking about the search for the sacred.” – Booklist

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