ELAINE AND BILL: PORTRAIT OF A MARRIAGE

THE LIVES OF WILLEM AND ELAINE DE KOONING

An unvarnished life of ``action painter'' Willem de Kooning and his artist-wife, by Hall (past president of the Rhode Island School of Design; Betty Parsons, 1991—not reviewed). While focusing on the deeply troubled relationship between the introverted Dutch-born Abstract Expressionist and the ebullient Brooklyn woman he married, Hall also presents an overview of the couple's art-world contemporaries: Jackson Pollock and his wife, Lee Krasner; Arshile Gorky; Robert Motherwell; David Smith; Franz Kline—in Hall's telling, a pretty unappealing lot of bed-hopping brawlers, blowhards, and bigots. The de Kooning marriage was an open one with each partner engaging in a seemingly endless series of affairs: As her husband's reputation as a leader of the emerging New York School of the 1950's gathered steam, Elaine, in order to further his career, embarked on affairs with art critics Thomas Hess and Harold Rosenberg. Even so, fellow action-painter Jackson Pollock's reputation outshone de Kooning's, at least in the popular press, and the two men became rivals, not only for artistic kudos but also for women. Who could best hold his liquor also became a point of contention, though both ended up as alcoholics. When Pollock was killed in a car crash while drunk, de Kooning's reputation as ``the greatest American painter'' soared. His works commanded higher and higher prices—but his drinking escalated as well. The de Koonings eventually separated after Willem fathered an illegitimate child and Elaine sank into dipsomania. But after 20 years, the couple reunited, and Elaine, recovering from alcoholism, devoted her final years to protecting the health and reputation of her husband, who became ever more reclusive and detached. In 1989, Elaine died of lung cancer; today, the ``American Picasso'' has been declared mentally incompetent, his daughter and a lawyer acting as his co-conservators. Written in pedestrian prose—but nonetheless a continually engrossing, if depressing, portrait of an American master. (Sixteen pages of b&w photographs—not seen)

Pub Date: June 30, 1993

ISBN: 0-06-018305-5

Page Count: 320

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 1993

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...

THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE

50TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION

Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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IN MY PLACE

From the national correspondent for PBS's MacNeil-Lehrer Newshour: a moving memoir of her youth in the Deep South and her role in desegregating the Univ. of Georgia. The eldest daughter of an army chaplain, Hunter-Gault was born in what she calls the ``first of many places that I would call `my place' ''—the small village of Due West, tucked away in a remote little corner of South Carolina. While her father served in Korea, Hunter-Gault and her mother moved first to Covington, Georgia, and then to Atlanta. In ``L.A.'' (lovely Atlanta), surrounded by her loving family and a close-knit black community, the author enjoyed a happy childhood participating in activities at church and at school, where her intellectual and leadership abilities soon were noticed by both faculty and peers. In high school, Hunter-Gault found herself studying the ``comic-strip character Brenda Starr as I might have studied a journalism textbook, had there been one.'' Determined to be a journalist, she applied to several colleges—all outside of Georgia, for ``to discourage the possibility that a black student would even think of applying to one of those white schools, the state provided money for black students'' to study out of state. Accepted at Michigan's Wayne State, the author was encouraged by local civil-rights leaders to apply, along with another classmate, to the Univ. of Georgia as well. Her application became a test of changing racial attitudes, as well as of the growing strength of the civil-rights movement in the South, and Gault became a national figure as she braved an onslaught of hostilities and harassment to become the first black woman to attend the university. A remarkably generous, fair-minded account of overcoming some of the biggest, and most intractable, obstacles ever deployed by southern racists. (Photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-374-17563-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1992

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