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FRANCIS BACON IN YOUR BLOOD

A MEMOIR

Initially, one fears this may be a crass exposé of the “queer” life of the artist, but Peppiatt shows a deft hand in...

Peppiatt (Art Plural: Voices of Contemporary Art, 2014, etc.) delivers “the subjective story of two lives, focusing on the complex, volatile relationship that bound [Francis] Bacon and me together over…three decades.”

The author describes Bacon as the Dr. Caligari of art, painting portraits of twisted, distorted, disfigured, and discolored bodies. Their first meeting was in 1963, when Peppiatt interviewed the “subversive” artist. The author felt as if he were being sucked in, trapped, and out of his depth with this alcoholic, sadomasochistic homosexual. He was a willing victim who spent a large part of his life preserving Bacon’s rants. Life with the artist was a succession of fine meals at top-notch restaurants followed by stops at clubs of steadily decreasing social acceptance and ending with late meals at Annabel’s. Peppiatt succeeded in remembering Bacon’s words mostly because he repeated himself so often. Champagne was followed by wine and liquor of increasing strength, as well as plenty of gambling. The author describes Bacon as “very critical and unforgiving in his opinions of other people and above all their art; very supportive but also very destructive; very vain and arrogant yet surprisingly realistic and modest.” Though Peppiatt was never sexually attached, he was a Boswell-like sounding board and a link for introductions. The young author took to the free-wheeling 1960s, exploring in France, Tangier, and Spain, always returning to Bacon. It’s likely that his ties to Bacon and his connections to the stars of the art world helped him to a wonderful career in art history and publishing, but the author is fully candid and open in his beguiling portrait of this bad boy of the art world.

Initially, one fears this may be a crass exposé of the “queer” life of the artist, but Peppiatt shows a deft hand in crafting an enthralling, delightful story of two very different men.

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-63286-344-7

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: Aug. 16, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2015

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NIGHT

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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INTO THE WILD

A wonderful page-turner written with humility, immediacy, and great style. Nothing came cheap and easy to McCandless, nor...

The excruciating story of a young man on a quest for knowledge and experience, a search that eventually cooked his goose, told with the flair of a seasoned investigative reporter by Outside magazine contributing editor Krakauer (Eiger Dreams, 1990). 

Chris McCandless loved the road, the unadorned life, the Tolstoyan call to asceticism. After graduating college, he took off on another of his long destinationless journeys, this time cutting all contact with his family and changing his name to Alex Supertramp. He was a gent of strong opinions, and he shared them with those he met: "You must lose your inclination for monotonous security and adopt a helter-skelter style of life''; "be nomadic.'' Ultimately, in 1992, his terms got him into mortal trouble when he ran up against something—the Alaskan wild—that didn't give a hoot about Supertramp's worldview; his decomposed corpse was found 16 weeks after he entered the bush. Many people felt McCandless was just a hubris-laden jerk with a death wish (he had discarded his map before going into the wild and brought no food but a bag of rice). Krakauer thought not. Admitting an interest that bordered on obsession, he dug deep into McCandless's life. He found a willful, reckless, moody boyhood; an ugly little secret that sundered the relationship between father and son; a moral absolutism that agitated the young man's soul and drove him to extremes; but he was no more a nutcase than other pilgrims. Writing in supple, electric prose, Krakauer tries to make sense of McCandless (while scrupulously avoiding off-the-rack psychoanalysis): his risky behavior and the rites associated with it, his asceticism, his love of wide open spaces, the flights of his soul.

A wonderful page-turner written with humility, immediacy, and great style. Nothing came cheap and easy to McCandless, nor will it to readers of Krakauer's narrative. (4 maps) (First printing of 35,000; author tour)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-679-42850-X

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Villard

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 1995

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