Meisler throws new light on Soutine and, more broadly, on the experiences of aspiring immigrant artists in the city that...

SHOCKING PARIS

SOUTINE, CHAGALL AND THE OUTSIDERS OF MONTPARNASSE

The story of immigrant artists who were celebrated as the School of Paris.

Histories of bohemian Paris usually feature Matisse, Picasso and their circle. Former Los Angeles Times diplomatic correspondent Meisler (When the World Calls: The Inside Story of the Peace Corps and Its First Fifty Years, 2011, etc.) takes a fresh view by highlighting three artistic iconoclasts who happened to be Jewish immigrants: Amedeo Modigliani (1884-1920), Marc Chagall (1887-1985) and, the author’s central focus, Chaim Soutine (1893-1943). Critic André Warnod publicized them as the School of Paris, talented foreigners who emigrated, he said, with “hardly anything else in their baggage but the will to enrich their art with what they find among us.” Meisler found considerable material to document the lives and works of Modigliani and Chagall, but Soutine proved elusive. With no letters, memoirs or personal notes to draw upon, the author still puts together a vivid portrait of a difficult, irascible man, markedly unlike the gregarious Chagall or suave Modigliani. Unattractive and noticeably unkempt, Soutine’s emotional temperament emerged in his work: A predominant trait “was the thickness of the paint with its dynamic swirls, bolstering the belief that the artist must have attacked the canvas in some kind of frenzy.” When a painting failed to meet his expectations, he violently slashed it. Meisler finds recurring instances of Soutine’s “paralytic shyness, his foolish naiveté, his volatile anger and his sometimes-cursed relations with those who wanted to embrace him.” Among those were a wealthy patron, Madeleine Castaing, whom Meisler interviewed; and Albert Barnes, the eccentric collector who discovered Soutine during an early buying trip. Soutine’s works, Barnes exclaimed, “were a surprise, if not a shock….I felt he was making creative use of certain traits of the work of Bosch, Tintoretto, Van Gogh, Daumier and Cézanne, and was getting new effects with color.”

Meisler throws new light on Soutine and, more broadly, on the experiences of aspiring immigrant artists in the city that fostered their dreams.

Pub Date: April 14, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-137-27880-7

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Nov. 29, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2014

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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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Buffs of the Old West will enjoy Clavin’s careful research and vivid writing.

TOMBSTONE

THE EARP BROTHERS, DOC HOLLIDAY, AND THE VENDETTA RIDE FROM HELL

Rootin’-tootin’ history of the dry-gulchers, horn-swogglers, and outright killers who populated the Wild West’s wildest city in the late 19th century.

The stories of Wyatt Earp and company, the shootout at the O.K. Corral, and Geronimo and the Apache Wars are all well known. Clavin, who has written books on Dodge City and Wild Bill Hickok, delivers a solid narrative that usefully links significant events—making allies of white enemies, for instance, in facing down the Apache threat, rustling from Mexico, and other ethnically charged circumstances. The author is a touch revisionist, in the modern fashion, in noting that the Earps and Clantons weren’t as bloodthirsty as popular culture has made them out to be. For example, Wyatt and Bat Masterson “took the ‘peace’ in peace officer literally and knew that the way to tame the notorious town was not to outkill the bad guys but to intimidate them, sometimes with the help of a gun barrel to the skull.” Indeed, while some of the Clantons and some of the Earps died violently, most—Wyatt, Bat, Doc Holliday—died of cancer and other ailments, if only a few of old age. Clavin complicates the story by reminding readers that the Earps weren’t really the law in Tombstone and sometimes fell on the other side of the line and that the ordinary citizens of Tombstone and other famed Western venues valued order and peace and weren’t particularly keen on gunfighters and their mischief. Still, updating the old notion that the Earp myth is the American Iliad, the author is at his best when he delineates those fraught spasms of violence. “It is never a good sign for law-abiding citizens,” he writes at one high point, “to see Johnny Ringo rush into town, both him and his horse all in a lather.” Indeed not, even if Ringo wound up killing himself and law-abiding Tombstone faded into obscurity when the silver played out.

Buffs of the Old West will enjoy Clavin’s careful research and vivid writing.

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-21458-4

Page Count: 400

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Jan. 20, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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