THE WHITE BLACKBIRD

A LIFE OF THE PAINTER MARGARETT SARGENT BY HER GRANDDAUGHTER

A compelling biography of a troubled socialite and talented but minor artist. Rich, charming, and a drop-dead beauty, Margarett Sargent (18921978) was also a footnote in the history of art. An independent spirit from the start, Sargent challenged her conservative and wealthy Bostonian family by pursuing a career, first as a sculptor of portrait busts and later as a painter. She studied with, among others, Gutzon Borglum (of Mount Rushmore fame) at his art camp in Turn of River, Conn., and George Luks, who became Sargent's most important mentor and friend. She exhibited fairly regularly in solo and group shows between 1916 and 1936. Critic Henry McBride wrote in 1930: ``If she is ever able to forget, or conceal, her somewhat noticeable admiration for Matisse she will prove an artist that has to be taken very much into account.'' But in 1936, Sargent felt that creating art had gotten ``too intense,'' and she turned instead to gardening. Sargent's artistic career is only part of this story, however. Like a character out of an F. Scott Fitzgerald story, she partied, flirted, and drank to excess. Alcoholism, along with severe mental illness, undermined her career, her marriage, and, ultimately, her life. Her last decades were pathetic and lonely ones, spent in and out of various mental institutions. In this carefully researched biography, Moore, the artist's granddaughter and a playwright and poet, has gone through her family's attic, culling information from letters, journals, and interviews to introduce us to Sargent's handsome society husband, many lovers, suffering children, and loyal friends. Most painfully, she has confronted the legacy of a family haunted by mental illness. Striking just the right balance between personal and professional, Moore places Sargent's life and career in a broader cultural context. In Moore's skilled hands, this portrait of narcissism, illness, and social privilege becomes completely captivating. (color and b&w photos, line drawings, not seen)

Pub Date: March 12, 1996

ISBN: 0-670-85063-7

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 1995

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WHAT A WONDERFUL WORLD

A LIFETIME OF RECORDINGS

Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)

Pub Date: May 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-19-508629-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1995

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MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. AND THE MARCH ON WASHINGTON

This early reader is an excellent introduction to the March on Washington in 1963 and the important role in the march played by Martin Luther King Jr. Ruffin gives the book a good, dramatic start: “August 28, 1963. It is a hot summer day in Washington, D.C. More than 250,00 people are pouring into the city.” They have come to protest the treatment of African-Americans here in the US. With stirring original artwork mixed with photographs of the events (and the segregationist policies in the South, such as separate drinking fountains and entrances to public buildings), Ruffin writes of how an end to slavery didn’t mark true equality and that these rights had to be fought for—through marches and sit-ins and words, particularly those of Dr. King, and particularly on that fateful day in Washington. Within a year the Civil Rights Act of 1964 had been passed: “It does not change everything. But it is a beginning.” Lots of visual cues will help new readers through the fairly simple text, but it is the power of the story that will keep them turning the pages. (Easy reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-448-42421-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2000

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