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Like a modern-day Giorgio Vasari, Morris creates an intimate and unique you-are-there assessment of what made the...

An ideal introduction to the rebellious art movement.

Zoologist Morris (Cats in Art, 2017, etc.) is well-known for his many BBC nature programs and the influential The Naked Ape (1967), but he’s also a fine painter and was a member of the surrealist movement. In 1950, he exhibited with noted surrealist Joan Miró and made two surrealist films. Readers will be thankful that Morris, now 89, wrote this very personal take on his fellow surrealists. Although he only caught the tail end of it in the 1940s, he offers a revealing book filled with shocking anecdotes and outrageous quotations about 32 of them, from the renowned—Salvador Dalí was the “most skillful, most accomplished”—to the obscure. In these witty and succinct profiles, Morris focuses on their personalities, which, in many cases, were stranger than their art; surrealism wasn’t only an art movement, but a “whole way of life.” Many of the opening sentences immediately grab the reader’s attention. Hans Bellmer “holds the record for creating some of the most disturbing images in the history of the surrealist movement.” André Breton, more poet than artist, was the movement’s “most central, most important figure” even though he was a “petty dictator.” Max Ernst “was the ultimate surrealist” and the most exploratory, “restlessly inventive and forever trying out new techniques.” René Magritte “was an artist addicted to contradiction.” He spent his life “trying to think up novel ways of insulting the commonsense values of everyday existence.” Wolfgang Paalen “has the dubious distinction of being the only surrealist to have been eaten by wild animals.” There’s a distinct tell-all aspect to the narrative; Morris doesn’t shy away from describing the artists’ sexual proclivities and numerous relationships. The book also includes stunning photographs of the artists and their work.

Like a modern-day Giorgio Vasari, Morris creates an intimate and unique you-are-there assessment of what made the surrealists tick.

Pub Date: May 15, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-500-02136-1

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Thames & Hudson

Review Posted Online: Feb. 4, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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Well-told and admonitory.

Young-rags-to-mature-riches memoir by broker and motivational speaker Gardner.

Born and raised in the Milwaukee ghetto, the author pulled himself up from considerable disadvantage. He was fatherless, and his adored mother wasn’t always around; once, as a child, he spied her at a family funeral accompanied by a prison guard. When beautiful, evanescent Moms was there, Chris also had to deal with Freddie “I ain’t your goddamn daddy!” Triplett, one of the meanest stepfathers in recent literature. Chris did “the dozens” with the homies, boosted a bit and in the course of youthful adventure was raped. His heroes were Miles Davis, James Brown and Muhammad Ali. Meanwhile, at the behest of Moms, he developed a fondness for reading. He joined the Navy and became a medic (preparing badass Marines for proctology), and a proficient lab technician. Moving up in San Francisco, married and then divorced, he sold medical supplies. He was recruited as a trainee at Dean Witter just around the time he became a homeless single father. All his belongings in a shopping cart, Gardner sometimes slept with his young son at the office (apparently undiscovered by the night cleaning crew). The two also frequently bedded down in a public restroom. After Gardner’s talents were finally appreciated by the firm of Bear Stearns, his American Dream became real. He got the cool duds, hot car and fine ladies so coveted from afar back in the day. He even had a meeting with Nelson Mandela. Through it all, he remained a prideful parent. His own no-daddy blues are gone now.

Well-told and admonitory.

Pub Date: June 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-06-074486-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Amistad/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2006

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