Greig tries hard to avoid judgment, but in this case, mere reporting supplies judgment enough. Of interest to art history...

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BREAKFAST WITH LUCIAN

THE ASTOUNDING LIFE AND OUTRAGEOUS TIMES OF BRITAIN'S GREAT MODERN PAINTER

The editor of the Mail on Sunday and a veteran art critic explores the outsized talent and Pangaea-sized libido of painter Lucian Freud (1922–2011), grandson of Sigmund.

The exploits of Lothario, Casanova and Don Juan seem to pale in comparison to the astonishing sexual appetites and attitudes of a man who seemed interested in only two things: painting and sex. OK, gambling on horse races, as well (he lost millions of pounds). Freud’s personal privacy was, as Greig (King Maker, 2011, etc.) shows, quite difficult to penetrate—unless, of course, you were a young woman, in which case Freud would find a way to…work you in. The author had a relationship with Freud, meeting him, late in his life, for weekend breakfasts at a favorite restaurant, one that allowed Freud the privacy he craved. Greig interviewed Freud—there are some transcripts here—and many of his intimates and tells an astonishing story of appetite and accomplishment. He follows the painter from childhood to the grave, fills the book with photographs of the author and his work, and expands our notion of the capabilities of the human male. Freud had several wives and fathered 14 children (whom he basically ignored, though he did paint several of them, including nudes of 14-year-old Annie), most of whom remained devoted to him. Freud always had multiple relationships going—with models, with women he met accidentally, daughters of friends, whomever. Some partners accepted his busy agenda (or at least endured it) better than others; some were devastated by his betrayals. Greig also follows the arc of Freud’s career, which took years to flower but bore plenty of fruit once it did.

Greig tries hard to avoid judgment, but in this case, mere reporting supplies judgment enough. Of interest to art history students and ardent fans of Freud’s work.

Pub Date: Oct. 22, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-374-11648-4

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Aug. 26, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2013

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

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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

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

NIGHT

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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