Serious but plenty juicy: a treat for both aficionados of modern art and readers of celebrity bios. (24 pages b&w...

ART LOVER

A BIOGRAPHY OF PEGGY GUGGENHEIM

An inclusive account of the eventful life led by a driving influence in the world of modern art, by British playwright and historian Gill (An Honourable Defeat, 1994, etc.).

Born Marguerite, daughter of Benjamin and niece of the more famous Solomon R., Peggy Guggenheim (1898–1979) gained her first exposure to the world of the avant-garde as an unpaid clerk in her cousin Harold Loeb’s Sunwise Turn Bookshop in New York City. The 22-year-old took immediately to intellectual and artistic society; collagist and sculptor Laurence Vail, whom she married in 1922, was only one of the many artists in her collection of lovers. She blamed her promiscuity on Benjamin’s 1912 death aboard the Titanic, which left her “searching for a father,” but to his credit Gill refuses to take such remarks at face value. Instead, he weighs them against other testimony, noting that this “complex, anarchic, remarkable woman” was “not particularly introspective.” In Paris, Peggy soon found herself at the center of bohemian and expatriate society, forming durable friendships/love affairs with Samuel Beckett, Marcel Duchamp, Constantin Brancusi, and other notable avant-gardists. Moving on to London, she established Guggenheim Jeune in 1938, a gallery focused on contemporary art. On the eve of WWII, she accelerated her purchases, buying “a picture a day” and amassing one of the period’s most extensive private collections of modern art. Fleeing to New York with German surrealist (and future husband) Max Ernst, Peggy opened Art of This Century, which featured exhibitions by such then-unknowns as Robert Motherwell, Jackson Pollock, and Mark Rothko. She returned in 1948 to her beloved Venice; her 18th-century palazzo became the permanent site of the Peggy Guggenheim Collection upon her death. Gill makes a persuasive case for Guggenheim as a uniquely individual patron who single-handedly and single-mindedly helped determine art history’s course.

Serious but plenty juicy: a treat for both aficionados of modern art and readers of celebrity bios. (24 pages b&w photos, not seen)

Pub Date: April 8, 2002

ISBN: 0-06-019697-1

Page Count: 528

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2002

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Skloot's meticulous, riveting account strikes a humanistic balance between sociological history, venerable portraiture and...

THE IMMORTAL LIFE OF HENRIETTA LACKS

A dense, absorbing investigation into the medical community's exploitation of a dying woman and her family's struggle to salvage truth and dignity decades later.

In a well-paced, vibrant narrative, Popular Science contributor and Culture Dish blogger Skloot (Creative Writing/Univ. of Memphis) demonstrates that for every human cell put under a microscope, a complex life story is inexorably attached, to which doctors, researchers and laboratories have often been woefully insensitive and unaccountable. In 1951, Henrietta Lacks, an African-American mother of five, was diagnosed with what proved to be a fatal form of cervical cancer. At Johns Hopkins, the doctors harvested cells from her cervix without her permission and distributed them to labs around the globe, where they were multiplied and used for a diverse array of treatments. Known as HeLa cells, they became one of the world's most ubiquitous sources for medical research of everything from hormones, steroids and vitamins to gene mapping, in vitro fertilization, even the polio vaccine—all without the knowledge, must less consent, of the Lacks family. Skloot spent a decade interviewing every relative of Lacks she could find, excavating difficult memories and long-simmering outrage that had lay dormant since their loved one's sorrowful demise. Equal parts intimate biography and brutal clinical reportage, Skloot's graceful narrative adeptly navigates the wrenching Lack family recollections and the sobering, overarching realities of poverty and pre–civil-rights racism. The author's style is matched by a methodical scientific rigor and manifest expertise in the field.

Skloot's meticulous, riveting account strikes a humanistic balance between sociological history, venerable portraiture and Petri dish politics.

Pub Date: Feb. 9, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-4000-5217-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2010

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A wonderful page-turner written with humility, immediacy, and great style. Nothing came cheap and easy to McCandless, nor...

INTO THE WILD

The excruciating story of a young man on a quest for knowledge and experience, a search that eventually cooked his goose, told with the flair of a seasoned investigative reporter by Outside magazine contributing editor Krakauer (Eiger Dreams, 1990). 

Chris McCandless loved the road, the unadorned life, the Tolstoyan call to asceticism. After graduating college, he took off on another of his long destinationless journeys, this time cutting all contact with his family and changing his name to Alex Supertramp. He was a gent of strong opinions, and he shared them with those he met: "You must lose your inclination for monotonous security and adopt a helter-skelter style of life''; "be nomadic.'' Ultimately, in 1992, his terms got him into mortal trouble when he ran up against something—the Alaskan wild—that didn't give a hoot about Supertramp's worldview; his decomposed corpse was found 16 weeks after he entered the bush. Many people felt McCandless was just a hubris-laden jerk with a death wish (he had discarded his map before going into the wild and brought no food but a bag of rice). Krakauer thought not. Admitting an interest that bordered on obsession, he dug deep into McCandless's life. He found a willful, reckless, moody boyhood; an ugly little secret that sundered the relationship between father and son; a moral absolutism that agitated the young man's soul and drove him to extremes; but he was no more a nutcase than other pilgrims. Writing in supple, electric prose, Krakauer tries to make sense of McCandless (while scrupulously avoiding off-the-rack psychoanalysis): his risky behavior and the rites associated with it, his asceticism, his love of wide open spaces, the flights of his soul.

A wonderful page-turner written with humility, immediacy, and great style. Nothing came cheap and easy to McCandless, nor will it to readers of Krakauer's narrative. (4 maps) (First printing of 35,000; author tour)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-679-42850-X

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Villard

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 1995

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