It's a cliché to say that an artist draws his power from his
contradictions, but the lives of the great composers provide easy grist
for the mill.
While filming in Western Australia in May 1999, the critic Robert Hughes
survived--barely--a head-on collision with another car.
Most biographies of literary figures are a wonderful substitute for
actually having to read the work.
"We now live in a culture that's hyperaware of the construction and
manipulation of images in politics," David Greenberg writes in
How we miss Martha Gellhorn, and how we need her right now!
On the page, Patricia Highsmith could inspire a law-abiding citizen to
become a willing accomplice to murder, at least within the realm of the
Bayard Rustin forged a remarkable career as a social activist. Briefly a
member of the Young Communist League, he repudiated communism but
remained a socialist throughout his life.
Helen Keller may be the world's most famous supercrip.
Publishers, even academic presses, know that the public likes biography
and cater to this taste with a stream of handsomely produced, and often
quite well-written, volumes.
Lew Wasserman, who died last summer at 89, was not only the most
powerful and influential man in Hollywood over the past half-century but
also the most enigmatic.