biography

Thumbs up for Flaneuse: Women Walk the City in Paris, New York, Tokyo, Venice and London by Lauren Elkin. Sociology/Memoir.

A mishmash that works surprisingly well together: the history of women who walk in cities (flaneuses, to match the male term flaneurs); biography of some female writers like Jean Rhys, George Sand, and Martha Gellhorn; academic discussions on the social meaning of the suburb; the history of Paris; the plot of an art film; fragments of memoir from the author, which serve to keep it from being too academic.… >> Read more

funhome

Thumbs up for Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic by Alison Bechdel. Memoir, biography, graphic novel.

Any memoir that can keep me obsessively turning pages has got to be pretty amazing. The rumors are true: Alison Bechdel’s half-memoir, half-biography about how her father’s repressed homosexuality and her own more open lesbianism inform each other over the course of a lifetime is beautifully structured, wonderfully illustrated, and pleasingly literary.… >> Read more

carterfamily

Neither thumbs up nor thumbs down for The Carter Family: Don’t Forget This Song by Frank M. Young, illustrated by David Lasky. Biography/music.

I met the illustrator at a dinner party. I adore his work. In fact, I have some on my wall. However, unless you are truly interested in the Carter Family (which you might be, who knows, but I am not) you can probably skip this.… >> Read more

Thumbs up for Ascending Peculiarity: Edward Gorey on Edward Gorey, edited by Karen Wilkin. Biography.

Sort of marginally biography; nothing much ever happened in Edward Gorey’s life. This book is a compilation of interviews with Gorey from many sources, so some of the information is duplicated, but as a whole it paints a picture of a fascinating, eccentric, and lovable man.… >> Read more

Thumbs up for James Tiptree, Jr.: The Double Life of Alice B. Sheldon by Julie Phillips. Biography.

I don’t generally like to know too much about authors, in the same way that I can’t stand acknowledgements or prefaces: I’d rather not see behind the curtain, please; just tell me the damn story. But in reading the biography of Alice Sheldon I am safe from suffering disillusionment, as I am not really a fan of her (his) work in the first place.… >> Read more