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A shrewd eye investigating worlds too often dominated by hype.

Urbane essays from a noted fashion, art, and culture critic.

As editor-in-chief of Artforum and Interview magazine and contributor to the New Yorker and Vanity Fair, Sischy (1952-2015) was immersed in the worlds of art and fashion from the 1980s until her death. Warmly introduced by artist and musician Laurie Anderson, these smart, stylish, and perceptive essays, selected by Sischy’s wife, Brant, impressively display the range of her interests and talents. Praising painter Alice Neel for deciding to “represent the powerful instead of the powerless” as subjects, Sischy wrote that Neel “seems to have been born to paint this world, a world in which she had one foot in and one foot out.” Sischy also observed art and fashion with clarity and a certain detachment, and she respected individuals who did not flaunt their celebrity: Miuccia Prada, for example, who brings to her designs “consciousness of the history of beauty” and yet is not “fooling herself with pronouncements that she will revolutionize fashion with her latest move.” Nicole Kidman, the subject of a Vanity Fair profile, struck Sischy as modest, sincere, dependable, “a person who doesn’t let others down” and “hasn’t undergone the kind of narcissistic transformation that can turn extremely famous people into absolute bores or unbearable phonies.” Sischy seemed drawn, as well, to the vulnerable: photographer Bob Richardson, whose struggle with drugs and alcohol led to homelessness; Calvin Klein, whose retirement from fashion precipitated a substance abuse relapse; Jeff Koons, who “can be as hot-blooded as Brando in A Streetcar Named Desire”; John Galliano, “a highly functioning addict, relying on an almost lethal mix of alcohol and pills to stay on top of his game”; and Keith Haring, feverishly ambitious, who died of AIDS at 31. Sischy was also sensitive to “vicissitudes of taste” that affected artists’ reputations. “The notion that art speaks for itself is appealing but unrealistic,” she wrote in an essay about 19th-century photographer Clementina, Lady Hawarden, largely ignored during her lifetime.

A shrewd eye investigating worlds too often dominated by hype.

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-3203-5

Page Count: 592

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Aug. 12, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 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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