Despite limitations on research, Lubow sharply captures Arbus’ restlessness, pain, and artistic vision.

READ REVIEW

DIANE ARBUS

PORTRAIT OF A PHOTOGRAPHER

Photographer Diane Arbus (1923-1971) was addicted to danger, sex, and human oddities.

Arbus left a huge legacy of prints, contact sheets, journals, appointment diaries, unpublished writings, and letters. Unfortunately, her estate does not allow researchers access to this material, nor did they authorize publication of Arbus’ photographs for this biography. Nonetheless, Lubow (The Reporter Who Would Be King, 1992), who has served as a contributing writer at the New York Times Magazine and a staff writer at the New Yorker, perceptively describes 164 images, providing information about where readers can find them published. Drawing on a huge number of interviews, related archives, and Arbus’ several publications, the author produces a thorough, sympathetic portrait of a complicated woman who, from childhood on, stood out as “totally original.” Arbus began her career as a fashion photographer with her husband, Allan Arbus. The couple did advertising work for Arbus’ father, who owned a luxury department store, with Allan clicking the shutter and Diane staging the models. Soon, the couple got assignments for Glamour and Vogue, where their work was published alongside that of Irving Penn and Richard Avedon. Diane, though, was bored with fashion photography, and a course with Berenice Abbott inspired her interest in photography as an art. In 1953, with a Vogue press pass to photograph the circus, she became entranced by little people, who, writes the author, “were Diane’s introduction to the sideshow freaks whose portraits became her trademark.” “I do what gnaws at me,” she told her teacher Lisette Model. Those subjects ranged from “unsparing portraits of the rich” to “grim and tawdry” sex scenes. After her marriage ended, Arbus intensified her “compulsive fervor” for promiscuous sex, which likely caused hepatitis. Although a critical success, she doubted her talents; Lubow chronicles the deepening depressions that led to her suicide.

Despite limitations on research, Lubow sharply captures Arbus’ restlessness, pain, and artistic vision.

Pub Date: June 7, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-223432-2

Page Count: 768

Publisher: Ecco/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2016

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

UNTAMED

More life reflections from the bestselling author on themes of societal captivity and the catharsis of personal freedom.

In her third book, Doyle (Love Warrior, 2016, etc.) begins with a life-changing event. “Four years ago,” she writes, “married to the father of my three children, I fell in love with a woman.” That woman, Abby Wambach, would become her wife. Emblematically arranged into three sections—“Caged,” “Keys,” “Freedom”—the narrative offers, among other elements, vignettes about the soulful author’s girlhood, when she was bulimic and felt like a zoo animal, a “caged girl made for wide-open skies.” She followed the path that seemed right and appropriate based on her Catholic upbringing and adolescent conditioning. After a downward spiral into “drinking, drugging, and purging,” Doyle found sobriety and the authentic self she’d been suppressing. Still, there was trouble: Straining an already troubled marriage was her husband’s infidelity, which eventually led to life-altering choices and the discovery of a love she’d never experienced before. Throughout the book, Doyle remains open and candid, whether she’s admitting to rigging a high school homecoming court election or denouncing the doting perfectionism of “cream cheese parenting,” which is about “giving your children the best of everything.” The author’s fears and concerns are often mirrored by real-world issues: gender roles and bias, white privilege, racism, and religion-fueled homophobia and hypocrisy. Some stories merely skim the surface of larger issues, but Doyle revisits them in later sections and digs deeper, using friends and familial references to personify their impact on her life, both past and present. Shorter pieces, some only a page in length, manage to effectively translate an emotional gut punch, as when Doyle’s therapist called her blooming extramarital lesbian love a “dangerous distraction.” Ultimately, the narrative is an in-depth look at a courageous woman eager to share the wealth of her experiences by embracing vulnerability and reclaiming her inner strength and resiliency.

Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-0125-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Dial

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

Did you like this book?

An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

Google Rating

  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

BECOMING

The former first lady opens up about her early life, her journey to the White House, and the eight history-making years that followed.

It’s not surprising that Obama grew up a rambunctious kid with a stubborn streak and an “I’ll show you” attitude. After all, it takes a special kind of moxie to survive being the first African-American FLOTUS—and not only survive, but thrive. For eight years, we witnessed the adversity the first family had to face, and now we get to read what it was really like growing up in a working-class family on Chicago’s South Side and ending up at the world’s most famous address. As the author amply shows, her can-do attitude was daunted at times by racism, leaving her wondering if she was good enough. Nevertheless, she persisted, graduating from Chicago’s first magnet high school, Princeton, and Harvard Law School, and pursuing careers in law and the nonprofit world. With her characteristic candor and dry wit, she recounts the story of her fateful meeting with her future husband. Once they were officially a couple, her feelings for him turned into a “toppling blast of lust, gratitude, fulfillment, wonder.” But for someone with a “natural resistance to chaos,” being the wife of an ambitious politician was no small feat, and becoming a mother along the way added another layer of complexity. Throw a presidential campaign into the mix, and even the most assured woman could begin to crack under the pressure. Later, adjusting to life in the White House was a formidable challenge for the self-described “control freak”—not to mention the difficulty of sparing their daughters the ugly side of politics and preserving their privacy as much as possible. Through it all, Obama remained determined to serve with grace and help others through initiatives like the White House garden and her campaign to fight childhood obesity. And even though she deems herself “not a political person,” she shares frank thoughts about the 2016 election.

An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6313-8

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 30, 2018

Did you like this book?

more