The New York Art Scene in the period of 1974 thru 1984 was ‘on fire’. So much was going on everywhere! This book covers the scene!
Downtown is more than just a location, it’s an attitude–and in the 1970s and ’80s, that attitude forever changed the face of America. This book charts the intricate web of influences that shaped the generation of experimental and outsider artists working in Downtown New York during the crucial decade from 1974 to 1984. Published in conjunction with the first major exhibition of Downtown art (organized by New York University’s Grey Art Gallery and Fales Library), The Downtown Book brings the Downtown art scene to life, exploring everything from Punk rock to performance art. The book probes trends that arose in the 1970s and solidified New York’s reputation as arbiter of the postmodern American avant-garde.
First published in 1969, Notes on a Cowardly Lion has established itself as one of the best-ever show business biographies. Drawing on his father’s recollections and on the memories of those who worked with him, John Lahr brilliantly examines the history of modern American show business through the long and glorious career of his father–the raucous low-comic star of burlesque, vaudeville, the Broadway revue and musical, Hollywood movies, and the legitimate stage. Here in rich detail is Lahr evolving from low–dialect comic to Ziegfeld Follies sophisticate, hamming it up with the Scarecrow and Tin Woodsman on the set of TheWizard of Oz, and debuting Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot in America, which Kenneth Tynan called “one of the most noble performances I have ever seen.” In the examination of Bert Lahr’s chronic insecurity and self-absorption, the breakdown of his first marriage, and the affectionate arm’s length he kept between himself and his adoring second family, John Lahr’s book also brings the reader closer than any other theater biography to the private torment of a great funny man.
This edition of the book includes the award-winning essay “The Lion and Me,” John Lahr’s intimate reflections on family life with his distant, brooding, but lovable father. A first-class stylist, John Lahr takes the reader beyond the magic of show business to a dazzling examination of how a performing self is constructed and staged before the paying customers. Both as theater history and biography, Lahr’s book is superb.
“A book-length love letter. To open it is to enter a life, to participate in a sensibility and, perhaps most important, to laugh. Uproariously.”
— Stefan Kanfer, Life
“Endlessly fascinating, excellent. . . . A work of literature, a work of history, a subtle psychological study.”
— Richard Schickel, Harper’s Magazine
“This is a biography of the late Bert Lahr, that clown-comedian who played everything from burlesque to Aristophanes and Shakespeare, by his son, who is one of that rare species, an authentic theater critic. . . . John Lahr is frank and objective about his father. He sees that Bert was wildly funny on the stage and unhappy off. He was a haphazard father, a selfish lover, a thoughtless husband (his wife cherished him), a hypochondriac and a ruthless ‘professional.’ The past becomes present in this biography so that we come to know and understand the actor as clearly as the man. The book abounds in anecdotes that smack of the footlight world and its fascinating fauna. John Lahr is an honorable as well as a talented writer on the theater.”
Maxine Marx’s book about her experience as part of the family that gave us the Marx Brothers is deservedly well-known and much loved by classic movie fans. Her anecdotes are funny, loving and revealing. In some ways, the book doesn’t feel as though it were written by someone in such close proximity to these famous characters, but this jives with her description of the brothers’ closeness. Even the immediate family came after the brothers, and nothing and nobody came between them. Except maybe money.
I enjoyed the tidbit describing Sam “Frenchie” Marx’s gentle nature, which has a lot to say about women in the Marx family. Walking home after viewing The Scarlet Letter at the movies, young Maxine asked her grandpa “why they had put the A on the lady’s dress.” “Pshaw,” he replied. “Pshaw.” After a bit, he added, “Don’t tell der Mammavhat you saw, yah?”
I knew very little about Chico although he was always my favorite performer in all the movies what with the finger shooting and the “Attsa boy, make a big slam! Make a big, big slam!” Now I am in awe of tough little Betty Marx for putting up with all his shenanigans. Still, Chico manages to come across as charismatic. I’m glad the mafia didn’t whack him after all.
This passionate and monumental biography reassesses the life and legacy of one of the most significant cultural figures of the twentieth century.
Unevenly respected, easily hated, almost always suspected of being inferior to his reputation, Jean Cocteau has often been thought of as a jack-of-all-trades, master of none. In this landmark biography, Claude Arnaud thoroughly contests this characterization, as he celebrates Cocteau’s “fragile genius—a combination almost unlivable in art” but in his case so fertile.
Arnaud narrates the life of this legendary French novelist, poet, playwright, director, filmmaker, and designer who, as a young man, pretended to be a sort of a god, but who died as a humble and exhausted craftsman. His moving and compassionate account examines the nature of Cocteau’s chameleon-like genius, his romantic attachments, his controversial politics, and his intimate involvement with many of the century’s leading artistic lights, including Picasso, Proust, Hemingway, Stravinsky, and Tennessee Williams. Already published to great critical acclaim in France, Arnaud’s penetrating and deeply researched work reveals a uniquely gifted artist while offering a magnificent cultural history of the twentieth century.
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Claude Arnaud is a writer and recipient of the 2006 Prix Femina Essai. He lives in Paris, France. Lauren Elkin is a lecturer in English and comparative literature at the American University of Paris. Charlotte Mandell is an award-winning translator of more than thirty books.
Mary Shelley’s 1818 novel Frankenstein is its own type of monster mythos that will not die, a corpus whose parts keep getting harvested to animate new artistic creations. What makes this tale so adaptable and so resilient that, nearly 200 years later, it remains vitally relevant in a culture radically different from the one that spawned its birth?
Monstrous Progeny takes readers on a fascinating exploration of the Frankenstein family tree, tracing the literary and intellectual roots of Shelley’s novel from the sixteenth century and analyzing the evolution of the book’s figures and themes into modern productions that range from children’s cartoons to pornography. Along the way, media scholar Lester D. Friedman and historian Allison B. Kavey examine the adaptation and evolution of Victor Frankenstein and his monster across different genres and in different eras. In doing so, they demonstrate how Shelley’s tale and its characters continue to provide crucial reference points for current debates about bioethics, artificial intelligence, cyborg lifeforms, and the limits of scientific progress.
Blending an extensive historical overview with a detailed analysis of key texts, the authors reveal how the Frankenstein legacy arose from a series of fluid intellectual contexts and continues to pulsate through an extraordinary body of media products. Both thought-provoking and entertaining, Monstrous Progeny offers a lively look at an undying and significant cultural phenomenon.
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“Written in a most accessible style even as it presents a complicated history and series of analyses, Monstrous Progeny combines discussion of the original Frankenstein with issues of adaptation in theater, literature, cinema, and other media.”
Rick Worland author of The Horror Film: An Introduction)
“This lively and exciting analysis of the Frankenstein narratives, as found throughout literature, film, and cultural history, has an epic scope and depth. A tremendously impressive accomplishment.”