After reading this book, Prince remains enigmatic, and perhaps that’s part of the tribute. This is a man whose legacy was his music, an oeuvre that not only provided a platform that many of today’s most respected musicians have built their careers on, but one that continues to develop the more you listen to it. There’s so much more to listen to than simply the big hits, though those hits are far more complex than the instant pop accessibility of it would suggest.
This nuanced, well researched and often reflective biography follows closely upon the heels of Peter Longerich’s books about Himmler and Goebbels and a new scholarly edition of Mein Kampf. Apparently, there is renewed interest in what the Nazis did and thought, and this is perhaps because our world, as Timothy Snyder notes in Black Earth, is becoming more like theirs.
Archie Belaney “went native”, in an era when “the cowboys always won.” In the early 20th century, American First Nations people were still regarded as savages with a lust for killing wild animals. On one occasion, in an upscale Toronto hotel while on a lecture tour, Grey Owl was taunted for being Indian. He harmed no one with his deception. Did writing about his own experiences in the forest with animals constitute cultural appropriation? Braz says no.
Monte lived the American Dream and its Nightmare. He frequently had it all and just as frequently had nothing – often, it seems, at the same time. He opened the Copacabana nightclub in New York City in 1940 and for thirty years it remained the centre of the show business world: if a performer could succeed at the Copa, their career was made (and for those on the skids, frequently remade).
I find Rodriguez’ breezy, blunt writing style to be very readable. She is an excellent weaver of a tale, readers will find their interest whetted via the uninhibited panache of Rodriguez’ writing. I like when someone, writer or not, can see their mistakes, can laugh at themselves and not resort to mawkish or maudlin behavior or writing in order to gain empathy or sympathy for their plight.
Appearance or truth? Both? Form and spirit. There has been a tension in our appreciation for Robert Redford, a dedicated actor and filmmaker who also happens to be an image of masculine beauty. Redford, as a young man of impulse and integrity, and not a little rebellion, was interested in adventurous exploration, whether involving art, travel, or relationships. Everything considered, he was a lot less selfish and shallow than most of us would be. That may be part of why he has become such an intriguing and respectable elder statesman.
Some books should not be read with other books. Or the other book will not compare favorably. Some books remind the reader of why books are read in the first place – because they open the eyes and heart to new worlds that the reader had never dreamed of. Some books remove the cap from our head, and open the top of our skulls. And There was Light is such a book — at least in the first section. But for some, it might be the second section. It depends.
In reading some of the description of Gertrude Stein’s life, and how she came to be an art patron—a friend to artists, an owner of their work, a facilitator of relationships—I was impressed by how intimate and simple were the lives of now famous artists, how vivid the memory. One artist spreads news of the work of another artist, Pissarro talking with others about Cezanne; or one gallerist, Vollard, introducing Cezanne, Daumier, Manet, Renoirs, and Gauguin to those who might appreciate them.
Though O’Brien’s Joyce is a flawed character indeed, often abusing others with a self-confidence that borders on narcissism, he remains both fascinating, and oddly likeable. For those of us, like O’Brien, who are deeply in Joyce’s literary debt for what he’s created, who can’t imagine the world of literature without the linguistic play his writing has allowed, this is a joyful book, full of fun, interest and great imagination. I suspect that Joyce himself would have approved.
The biography is drawn around Dickens’ novels, which become the timeline for his life. This makes for fascinating reading, coupling literary criticism with a deep analysis of the relationship between life and art. In particular, the book explores the maturation of Dickens’ vision and maps the development of his work to the events in his life, attempting to find answers to the question of who Dickens was, through the material he left us.