Shoot the Widow Adventures of a Biographer in Search of

Shoot the Widow Adventures of a Biographer in Search of

Shoot the Widow Adventures of a Biographer in Search of Her Subject [KINDLE] ❆ Shoot the Widow Adventures of a Biographer in Search of Her Subject Author Meryle Secrest – The first rule of biography wrote Justin Kaplan “Shoot the widow”In her new book Meryle Secrest acclaimed biographer “Knowing sympathetic and entertainingly droll”— The New York Times writes The first rule of biography wrote Widow Adventures PDF ✓ Justin Kaplan “Shoot the widow”In her new book Meryle Secrest acclaimed biographer “Knowing sympathetic and entertainingly droll”— The New York Times writes about her comic triumphs and misadventures as a biographer in search of her Shoot the Kindle - nine celebrated subjects about how the hunt for a “life” is like working one’s way through a maze full of fall starts dead ends and occasional clear passages leading to the next part of the puzzleShe writes about her first book a the Widow Adventures PDF/EPUB æ life of Romaine Brooks and how she was led to Nice and given invaluable letters by her subject’s heir that were slid across the table one at a time; how she was led to the villa of Brooks’ lover Gabriele d’Annunzio poet the Widow Adventures of a PDF \ playwright and aviator a fantastic mausoleum left untouched since the moment of his death seventy years before; to a small English village where she uncovered a lost Romaine Brooks painting; and finally to rue Jacob Paris where Romaine’s lover Natalie Barney had fifty years before entertained Cocteau Gide Proust Colette and othersSecrest describes how her next book—a life of Berenson—prompted Francis Steegmuller fellow biographer to comment that he wouldn’t touch the subject with a ten foot poleFor her life of British art historian Kenneth Clark Secrest was given permission to write the book by her subject who surreptitiously financed it in the hopes of the Widow Adventures of a PDF \ controlling its contents; we see how Clark’s plan was foiled by a jealous mistress and a stash of love letters that helped Secrest navigate Clark’s obstacle courseAmong the other biographical misadventures Secrest reveals how she tracked Salvador Dalí to a hospital room found him recovering from serious burns sustained in a mysterious fire and learned that he was knee deep in a scandal involving fake drawings and prints and surrounded by dangerous characters out of Murder Inc and how she went in search of a subject’s grave Frank Lloyd Wright’s only to find that his body had been dug up to satisfy the whim of his last wifeA fascinating account of a life spent in sometimes arduous sometimes comical always exciting pursuit of the truth about other lives From the Hardcover edition.

  • Hardcover
  • 256 pages
  • Shoot the Widow Adventures of a Biographer in Search of Her Subject
  • Meryle Secrest
  • English
  • 21 April 2016
  • 9780307264831

About the Author: Meryle Secrest

Meryle Secrest was born and educated Widow Adventures PDF ✓ in Bath England and lives in Washington DC She is the author of twelve biographies and was awarded the Presidential National Humanities Medal.

10 thoughts on “Shoot the Widow Adventures of a Biographer in Search of Her Subject

  1. Lobstergirl Lobstergirl says:

    For me the essence of penetrating intelligence is exemplified by the forehead and his was as serene and sweeping as any I had seen writes biographer Meryle Secrest of one of her subjects Kenneth Clark When Clark had addressed her high school assembly just after World War II he seemed to be standing in his own spotlight The only person who ever matched him for charisma was John F Kennedyimage error

  2. Carl Rollyson Carl Rollyson says:

    In a lifetime of writing biographies of famous men Meryle Secrest has been tempted on than one occasion to do away with their surviving wives Widows are the inconvenient keepers of the flame who watch over the biographer's shoulder and forbid forays into intimate matters that might compromise the reputations of their husbands For Ms Secrest widows are not simply the spouses of dead subjects They are anyone who might block her access to private papers and privileged informationHaving written lives of Leonard Bernstein Stephen Sondheim Salvador Dalí Frank Lloyd Wright and other celebrated figures Ms Secrest is than ualified to bring us behind the scenes to witness the hazards and frustrations of the business Her new book Shoot the Widow Knopf 256 pages 2595 chronicles her mood swings false starts and — above all — delusions that her subjects can be easily snaredSometimes it begins well For her biography of Sir Kenneth Clark the august art historian Ms Secrest initially had her subject's cooperation Say what you like Clark's son told Ms Secrest But family members rarely mean it when they endorse openness They admire your work what you have done with some othersubject but then they discover that you have got it all wrong when it comes to themselvesSir Kenneth tried to control everything — even paying some of Ms Secrest's interviewees on the sly Such maneuvers lead subjects to believe they've got their biographer in pocket But as Ms Secrest illustrates they must part ways when the biographer asserts her independenceHow do biographers get into such fixes? Ms Secrest explains Biographers want access They are agreeable They seem like good friends But to write a credible life they have to get the goods Subjects as sophisticated as Sir Kenneth might be assumed to have wised up The biographer in the end cannot be controlled To hell with you all Ms Secrest finally had to tell his family Only then could she write her bookBut how could a writer as professional as Ms Secrest repeat her errors? Ah that's where the self delusion comes in This time it will be different the biographer thinks I have such a good subject and great access Well there is no access without acrimony — a truth understood only in retrospectMs Secrest writes beautifully and perceptively Her description of a dying Dalí she got to see him only once for an unauthorized biography is harrowing Stripped of his joie de vivre Dalí was barely able to talk because of the thick tube in his nose When Ms Secrest tries to interview him she finds the layers of his personae had shriveled to a shrunken figure And yet she describes the scene so vividly and with such a delicate attention to pathos that she conveys a great deal about Dalí in his final daysMs Secrest has alternated between dead and living figures choosing her subjects according to her interests and what she thinks the market will bear She is honest about her miscalculations and even admits to a certain flatness that enters her prose where she has not been able to capture her subjectI would argue with only one of her opinions In her biography of Mr Sondheim she decided not to pursue the composer's sexual experience She euates interest in sex with the trend toward salacious biographies critics have recently deplored But surely the sexual nature of a subject alive or dead is to modern minds a part of the whole personBut would Mr Sondheim have been so cooperative if Ms Secrest had done a Kitty Kelley her codename for salacious biography? Putting aside what I see as an injustice to Ms Kelley's unauthorized biographies it seems to me that in this case Ms Secrest paid too dearly in this case for her access Perhaps she was spooked early on when playwright John Guare pointed out to Mr Sondheim that Meryle Secrest's name is an anagram for merely secretsI suspect Mr Sondheim subtly restricted Ms Secrest by suggesting she was only interested in secrets She then had to prove how high minded she was This is a common enough trap for biographers but it's better to risk full disclosure and the inevitable name calling James Joyce called them biografiends than capitulate to the kind of propriety that dooms biographical truth

  3. Ann Ann says:

    A memoir by a writer of biographies This entertaining read moves back and forth between the author's own life and her adventures as a biographer Her love of the arts inspired her to write biographies of Salvador Dali Kenneth Clark Bernard Berenson Romaine Brooks Frank Lloyd Wright Stephen Sondheim Leonard Bernstein She describes the daily travails of the biographer whether it's dealing with protective relatives who want to protect the great man's legacyKenneth Clark or trying to gain access to a still living but jealously guarded subject Salvador Dali or having to realize that the idol had feet of clay Bernard Berenson All of this is described with a good sense of humor which makes for fun reading For Ms Crest biography is a process of discovery not just of the original sources letters diaries friends to interview but of what makes the subject of the book tick what is the defining driver of their creative work? This inevitably leads to some interest in these subject's early life relationship with mother and siblings but it never turns into heavy handed amateur Freudian analysis At any rate the book is not a compilation of mini biographies but about how Ms Crest approached the writing of each biography and what obstacles and joys she found along the way It's fun to watch over her shoulder as she is ushered into Salvador Dali's presence as she meets Stephen Sondheim as she waits for Leonard Bernstein to finish the rehearsal The author's own life interested me a little less although as the book progressed I started to feel a lot of admiration for the girl who grew up in Bath UK moved to Canada after WWII as a teen and started off as bank teller later as a poorly paid journalist in the days when newsprint was scarce and the men got all the plum assignments Somehow she ended up living in DC and carving out a second career for herself as a biographer Not an easy trajectory at all especially if you realize that there were 3 children and two marriages somewhere in there as well

  4. Linda Linda says:

    Justin Kaplan a biographer of Mark Twain called the first rule of biography “Shoot the widow” Secrest a former columnist for the Washington Post has written several biographies of notable people in the fields of art and music In her autobiography she tells us something of her life and examines the challenges of writing biography – the private truth versus the public façade and appearance versus reality” Her accounts of researching Kenneth Clark of PBS “Civilisation” fame and Richard Rodgers show how difficult it is to write a factual biography and simultaneously placate the family of the biographee who want control of what is written She also tells of her “adventures” writing about Bernard Berenson Salvador Dali Frank Lloyd Wright Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim

  5. Sally Sally says:

    I was fascinated by this book probably because I just published a biography myself although not thank goodness of a subject with living relatives or others with vested interests in her Secrest's revelations of some of the twists and turns she encountered in dealing with individuals who held keys to her subjects' pasts and these sources' expectations from her provided an intriguing behind the scenes look at the craft of biography and I enjoyed the way in which the twists intersected with her own autobiography Every now and then I found the story line to jump erratically but this is a minor uibble

  6. Mike Mike says:

    Nice read A good way to read several abridged biographies with out having to read full length biographies

  7. Carol Carol says:

    The author discusses her own life and her work researching biographies of nine prominent people including Bernstein Dali Frank Lloyd Wright

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