Nothing new, but for those who can’t get enough, a nice addition to the groaning shelf of books about the Hamptons’ artsy...

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DE KOONING’S BICYCLE

ARTISTS AND WRITERS IN THE HAMPTONS

Agreeable series of sketches about notable residents of Long Island’s East End, by the art critic for the East Hampton Star.

A short introductory chapter traces the East End’s history from the time the first settlers arrived in the mid-17th century through prosperity fueled by the whaling industry to the arrival of the first artists in the 1870s. Then this straightforward chronicle gives way to impressionistic snapshots of the area (which began to be known as the Hamptons in the 1960s) at various significant moments, usually seen through the eyes of a famous artist or writer. William Merritt Chase paints figures against the Shinnecock Bay landscape in 1902. Jackson Pollock’s ghost, wandering through the Metropolitan’s 20th-century art wing, recalls his years with wife Lee Krasner at a cottage in Springs during the 1940s. Poet Frank O’Hara leaves his day job at MoMA in 1966 to board the Montauk Line’s 4:19 train; his friend Fairfield Porter, meanwhile, has an affair with unstable Jimmy Schuyler while wife Anne seethes in their Southampton house, “the New York school’s summer camp from the late 1950s through the 1960s.” Jean Stafford drinks away her final years after A.J. Liebling’s death, in the book’s saddest chapter. And, of course, de Kooning rides his bicycle from his home to the studio where he paints in between drinks. The familiar material is (mostly) redeemed by Long’s fine prose, particularly the lovely descriptions of the Long Island landscape and light. Alcoholism, adultery and professional jealousy among creative people seem to hold a perennial fascination, and Long’s pleasant text is warmed by a longtime resident’s intimate knowledge of the East End’s landmarks: the Green River Cemetery where Pollock’s body lies under an enormous boulder; the Springs General Store run by Dan Miller; the Holiday Grill that marks “the real gateway to the Hamptons.”

Nothing new, but for those who can’t get enough, a nice addition to the groaning shelf of books about the Hamptons’ artsy crowd.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2005

ISBN: 0-374-16538-6

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2005

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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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A PEOPLE'S HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

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