If it weren't for the pictures, readers would leave this book thinking that Edgar Degas was the single most boring man who ever lived. He was born, lived in Paris, was unpleasant to be with, went to the theater, and died. Oh, he painted a little, too. In the first pages of her biography, Meyer (Mary Cassatt, 1990) tries to present the artist as a man of contradictions: an impressionist who didn't paint landscapes; an anti-Semite whose best friend was Jewish; an artist ""who had such an eye for detail"" and ""was afflicted with very poor eyesight."" The reader, however, is not persuaded -- perhaps because Meyer merely states and never proves. Her narrative is also liberally doused with quotes (unsourced) that seem handpicked to show that no bon mot was ever uttered in fin de siÃ¨cle France. Perhaps there really is nothing much to say about Degas -- though that's hard to believe -- but what about his art? Meyer provides no insight on this end, either. The pictures must tell their own story.