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By Christopher Byrd Downey. 2020
Edgar Allan Poe arrived in Charleston in November 1827 chased by storms, both literal and figurative. Some of the author's…previous indiscretions caused him to enlist in the U.S. Army six months earlier under the pseudonym Edgar A. Perry. The more than one year that Poe spent stationed at Fort Moultrie on Sullivan's Island has been shrouded in mystery for nearly two centuries because Poe deliberately tried to hide his stint in the army. But despite Poe's deceptions, the influences and impressions of the Lowcountry permeated his life and writing, providing the setting for Poe's most popular and widely read short story during his lifetime, "The Gold-Bug," and perhaps providing the inspiration for the real Annabel Lee. Author Christopher Byrd Downey details the hidden history of Poe in Charleston.
By Matthew Specktor. 2021
"[An] absorbing and revealing book. . . nestling in the fruitful terrain between memoir and criticism." —Geoff Dyer, author of…Out of Sheer Rage Blending memoir and cultural criticism, Matthew Specktor explores family legacy, the lives of artists, and a city that embodies both dreams and disillusionment. In 2006, Matthew Specktor moved into a crumbling Los Angeles apartment opposite the one in which F. Scott Fitzgerald spent the last moments of his life. Fitz had been Specktor’s first literary idol, someone whose own passage through Hollywood had, allegedly, broken him. Freshly divorced, professionally flailing, and reeling from his mother’s cancer diagnosis, Specktor was feeling unmoored. But rather than giving in or “cracking up,” he embarked on an obsessive journey to make sense of the mythologies of “success” and “failure” that haunt the artist’s life and the American imagination. Part memoir, part cultural history, part portrait of place, Always Crashing in the Same Car explores Hollywood through a certain kind of collapse. It’s a vibrant and intimate inspection of failure told through the lives of iconic, if under-sung, artists—Carole Eastman, Eleanor Perry, Warren Zevon, Tuesday Weld, and Hal Ashby, among others—and the author’s own family history. Through this constellation of Hollywood figures, he unearths a fascinating alternate history of the city that raised him and explores the ways in which curtailed ambition, insufficiency, and loss shape all our lives. At once deeply personal and broadly erudite, it is a story of an art form (the movies), a city (Los Angeles), and one person’s attempt to create meaning out of both. Above all, Specktor creates a moving search for optimism alongside the inevitability of failure and reveals the still-resonant power of art to help us navigate the beautiful ruins that await us all.
By Reyna Grande. 2012
Mago pointed to a spot on the dirt floor and reminded me that my umbilical cord was buried there. "That…way," Mami told the midwife, "no matter where life takes her, she won't ever forget where she came from." Then Mago touched my belly button . . . She said that my umbilical cord was like a ribbon that connected me to Mami. She said, "It doesn't matter that there's a distance btween us now. That cord is there forever." <P><P> When Reyna Grande's father leaves his wife and three children behind in a village in Mexico to make the dangerous trek across the border to the United States, he promises he will soon return from "El Otro Lado" (The Other Side) with enough money to build them a dream house where they can all live together. His promises become harder to believe as months turn into years. <P>When he summons his wife to join him, Reyna and her siblings are deposited in the already overburdened household of their stern, unsmiling grandmother. The three siblings are forced to look out for themselves; in childish games they find a way to forget the pain of abandonment and learn to solve very adult problems. When their mother at last returns, the reunion sets the stage for a dramatic new chapter in Reyna's young life: her own journey to "El Otro Lado" to live with the man who has haunted her imagination for years, her long-absent father. <P>In this extraordinary memoir, award-winning writer Reyna Grande vividly brings to life her tumultuous early years, capturing all the confusion and contradictions of childhood, especially one spent torn between two parents and two countries. Elated when she feels the glow of her father's love and approval, Reyna knows that at any moment he might turn angry or violent. Only in books and music and her rich imaginary life does she find solace, a momentary refuge from a world in which every place feels like "El Otro Lado." <P>The Distance Between Us captures one girl's passage from childhood to adolescence and beyond. A funny, heartbreaking, lyrical story, it reminds us that the joys and sorrows of childhood are always with us, invisible to the eye but imprinted on the heart, forever calling out to us of those places we first called home.
By Tim Pat Coogan. 2008
From the personal to the political, this is the much-awaited memoir from Tim Pat Coogan.Ireland's best-known journalist, broadcaster, historian and…bestselling biographer Tim Pat Coogan has not only reported the news - he's been the news. Through the Irish Press, where he served as editor for twenty years, he is renowned for bringing social and political change to Ireland. He went on to play a vital role in bringing the IRA/Sinn Fein to the peace talks table, and has always been uniquely placed to comment authoritatively - if not controversially - on all aspects of Irish current affairs.From personal to political, his revelatory memoir gives genuine insight into the life and high-profile career of a man at the centre of Irish politics and society.
By Dan Robson. 2021
"Dan Robson’s book is a heart-wrenching portrait of grief. Anyone who has lost a parent will recognize it, know it…intimately as you roll through the stages and finally come to the realization that a parent’s ultimate gift to a child is showing them how to live."—Tanya Talaga, bestselling author of Seven Fallen Feathers A tender memoir of fathers and sons, love and loss, and learning to fill boots a size too big. Dan Robson’s father is a builder, a fixer. A man whose high-school education is enough not only to provide for his family, but to build a successful business. Rick Robson holds things up. When he dies, nothing in his son’s world feels steady anymore. In a very real sense, the home his father had built is suddenly fragile. Without its natural caretaker, the house will fall to pieces—and his family shows all the same signs of crumbling. Dan is hit especially hard. He knows he is not the man his father was. Dan never learned the blue-collar skills he admired, because his father wanted him to pursue his dream of becoming a writer. Now that his father is gone, the acknowledgment of his sacrifices and the sheer longing to be close to him again in some way draw Dan to the tools that lie unused in the garage. So begins Dan’s year of learning the skills his father’s hands had long mastered, and trying to fill the steel-toe boots left behind. Measuring Up is the story of that journey. Robson picks up where his father left off, working on the house and the truck, as much for the family as for himself. In much the same way that Michael Pollan comes to know his house inside-out in A Place of My Own, Robson learns the mysteries and proud satisfaction of plumbing, carpentry, wiring, and drywalling, and comes to understand how our homes are built. He also comes to see how his home was built by his father, uncovering more than one heartbreaking reminder of the kind of man his father was, and what he meant to his family. Tender and unflinching, Measuring Up is a story of love, mourning, and what it means to use your calloused hands to make the world around you a better place to live.
By Ross King. 2021
The bestselling author of Brunelleschi's Dome and Michelangelo and the Pope's Ceiling captures the excitement and spirit of the Renaissance…in this chronicle of the life and work of "the king of the world's booksellers" and the technological disruption that forever changed the ways knowledge spread.The Renaissance in Florence conjures images of beautiful frescoes and elegant buildings—the dazzling handiwork of the city's skilled artists and architects. But equally important for the centuries to follow were geniuses of a different sort: Florence's manuscript hunters, scribes, scholars, and booksellers, who blew the dust off a thousand years of history and, through the discovery and diffusion of ancient knowledge, imagined a new and enlightened world. At the heart of this activity was a remarkable man: Vespasiano da Bisticci. Born in 1422, he became what a friend called "the king of the world's booksellers." At a time when all books were made by hand, over four decades Vespasiano produced and sold many hundreds of volumes from his bookshop, which also became a gathering spot for discussion and debate. Besides repositories of ancient wisdom by the likes of Plato, Aristotle, and Cicero, his books were works of art in their own right, copied by talented scribes and illuminated by the finest miniaturists. His clients included a roll-call of popes, kings, and princes across Europe who wished to burnish their reputations by founding magnificent libraries. Vespasiano reached the summit of his powers as Europe's most prolific merchant of knowledge when a new invention appeared: the printed book. By 1480, the king of the world's booksellers was swept away by this epic technological disruption, whereby cheaply produced books reached readers who never could have afforded one of Vespasiano’s elegant manuscripts. A thrilling chronicle of intellectual ferment set against the dramatic political and religious turmoil of the era, including the fall of Constantinople to the Ottoman Turks, Ross King's The Bookseller of Florence is also an ode to books and bookmaking that charts the world-changing shift from script to print through the life of an extraordinary man long lost to history—one of the true titans of the Renaissance.
By Stephen King. 2000
There is a reason why Stephen King is one of the bestselling writers in the world, ever. Described in the…Guardian as 'the most remarkable storyteller in modern American literature', Stephen King writes books that draw you in and are impossible to put down.Part memoir, part master class by one of the bestselling authors of all time, this superb volume is a revealing and practical view of the writer's craft, comprising the basic tools of the trade every writer must have. King's advice is grounded in the vivid memories from childhood through his emergence as a writer, from his struggling early career to his widely reported, near-fatal accident in 1999 - and how the inextricable link between writing and living spurred his recovery.
By Edna O'Brien. 2009
'Edna O'Brien has always had a gift for writing about affairs of the heart' Guardian'Her boldly coloured portrait rewrites his…life with all the brio and elan for which her novels are renowned' The Herald 'Hugely enjoyable' Daily TelegraphBYRON IN LOVE - the nobility, arrogance and sheer theatre of Byron's life.Byron, more than any other poet, has come to personify the poet as rebel, imaginative and lawless, reaching beyond race, creed or frontier, his gigantic flaws redeemed by a magnetism and ultimately a heroism that by ending in tragedy raised it and him from the particular to the universal.Everything about Lord George Gordon Byron was a paradox - insider and outsider, beautiful and deformed, serious and facetious, profligate but on occasion miserly, and possessed of a fierce intelligence trapped forever in a child's magic and malices. He was also a great poet, but as he reminded us, poetry is a distinct faculty and has little to do with the individual life of its creator. Edna O'Brien's exemplary biography focuses upon the diverse and colourful women in Byron's life.'O'Brien charts the many loves of the notorious 19th-century poet's reckless life in immediate and candid prose' Sunday Telegraph'A beguiling blend of sympathy, humour and, of course, her signature lilting style . . . a delightful, though poignant, account' Main on Sunday 'There is much to enjoy in this idiosyncratic and highly readable account of the poet whose writing enthralled and whose actions appalled in equal measure' Independent
By Mary S. Lovell. 2001
'A cracking read ' Lynn Barber, ObserverThe Mitford Girls tells the true story behind the gaiety and frivolity of the…six Mitford daughters - and the facts are as sensational as any novel: Nancy, whose bright social existence masked an obsessional doomed love which soured her success; Pam, a countrywoman married to one of the best brains in Europe; Diana, an iconic beauty, who was already married when at 22 she fell in love with Oswald Moseley, the leader of the British fascists; Unity, who romantically in love with Hitler, became a member of his inner circle before shooting herself in the temple when WWII was declared; Jessica, the family rebel, who declared herself a communist in the schoolroom and the youngest sister, Debo, who became the Duchess of Devonshire.This is an extraordinary story of an extraordinary family, containing much new material, based on exclusive access to Mitford archives.
By Corey Seymour, Jann Wenner. 2007
Few American lives are stranger or wilder than that of Hunter S. Thompson. Born a rebel in Kentucky, Thompson spent…a lifetime channelling his energy into such landmark works as FEAR AND LOATHING IN LAS VEGAS - and his provocative style revolutionised writing.Now, for the first time ever, Jann Wenner and Corey Seymour have interviewed Thompson's friends, family and colleagues and woven their memories into a brilliant oral biography. From Hell's Angels leader Sonny Barger, to Ralph Steadman, to Jack Nicholson, more than 100 members of Thompson's inner circle bring into vivid focus the life of a man who was more complicated and talented than any previous portrait has shown. It's all here: the creative frenzies, the love affairs, the drugs, booze and guns, and, ultimately, the tragic suicide. As Thompson was fond of saying, "Buy the ticket, take the ride."
By Anne Chisholm. 2009
Frances Partridge: the last survivor of the Bloomsbury group - the authorised biography.Frances Partridge was one of the great British…diarists of the 20th century. She became part of the Bloomsbury group encountering Virginia Woolf, Lytton Strachey, the Bells, Roger Fry, Maynard Keynes, Dora Carrington and Ralph Partridge. She and Ralph fell in love and married in 1933. During the Second World War they were committed pacifists and they enjoyed the happiest times of their lives together, entertaining friends such as E.M. Forster, Robert Kee and Duncan Grant.Despite losing both her husband and son, Frances maintained an astonishing appetite for life, whether for her friends, travelling, botany, or music. Her diaries (which she continued to write until her death in 2004) chronicle her life from the 1930s onwards. Their publication brought her recognition and acclaim, and earned her the right to be seen not as a minor character on the Bloomsbury stage but standing at the centre of her own.
By Sir Frank Kermode. 2009
A major reassessment of the one of the greatest English novelist of the twentieth century, from celebrated critic Sir Frank…Kermode.CONCERNING E.M. FORSTER is a rich, varied and original portrait of a literary great. When Sir Frank Kermode delivered the Clark Lectures at Cambridge University, he chose E.M. Forster as his subject; these lectures form the core of this book. Kermode reappraises the influence and meaning of Forster's oeuvre, offering a fascinating interpretation of his most celebrated work, A PASSAGE TO INDIA.There follows a series of interweaving discussions that bring to life diverse topics - Empire, class, poverty, the condition of the novel, the role of the artist - but always return to our enigmatic subject. Kermode also reflects on Forster's considerable talent and shortcomings, places him within a wider social context, and casts spotlight on his contemporaries, presenting a unique panorama of twentieth-century English literature.
By Aeronwy Thomas. 2009
In 1949, after years of nomadic existence, nine-year-old Aeronwy Thomas and her family arrived at the Boat House in Laugharne,…a small village on the Welsh coast. Here her father, the poet Dylan Thomas and mother, Caitlin, hoped to find peace, a place to settle and work.In Laugharne Dylan began some of his most famous works, including Under Milk Wood. Mornings were spent in Brown's Hotel, listening to the gossip at Ivy William's kitchen table. In the afternoons Caitlin would lock the poet into a shed in the garden, where he sat speaking his verse aloud as he wrote, or composed begging letters to patrons and friends. Often he would head off to London, and old haunts. Little Aeronwy enjoyed the new world around her. In the Boat House, ruled over by Caitlin, there was baby Colm and in the holidays visits from big brother Llewellyn, as well as Dolly, the cleaner and cook, and the house became a refuge for village characters, including Booda the deaf, mute ferry man. The memoir paints scenes of sudden drama and poetry: reading Wind in the Willows with her father in the evenings; fish treading in the mud below the house with her mother; afternoons with Grandma Flo and DJ at the Pelican. Dylan's fame grows and he tours the United States to read his poetry. Aeronwy watches as the marriage fractures, and at last the poet dies in New York, far away from his children. My Father's Places is a deeply moving portrait of growing up and an insight into the origins and the legacy of Dylan Thomas's poetry.
By Nicholas Murray. 2004
This gripping biography of the great Czech novelist, diarist and short story writer chronicles Kafka's entire (if tragically curtailed) life…(1883-1924), but it focuses upon the writer's relationship to his father and his inheritance as a member of the Jewish mercantile bourgeoisie in Prague. Born into a German-speaking Jewish family, Kafka was a subject of the Austro-Hungarian empire until 1919 yet through his work he is one of the most modern of writers. While previous works have concentrated on Kafka and his women, Nicholas Murray will concentrate on his extraordinary relationship with his father which found its most eloquent literary expression in the story 'The Judgement' written in 1912 when Kafka was twenty-nine:in a reverse Oedipal move, the father condemns his son to death by drowning. This work is essential for an understanding of the intensely private and complex Kafka and the kind of writer he turned out to be - the creator in THE CASTLE, THE TRIAL and METAMORPHOSIS (the dazzling short story whose hero wakes up to find himself transformed into a giant insect) of some of the defining literature of the 20th century.
By Martin Stannard. 2009
The long-awaited biography of one of the great writers of the twentieth century - 'a wonderful blend of scholarly fact…and juicy storytelling' (Mail on Sunday).Muriel Spark ended was one of the great writers of the twentieth century. Hers is a Cinderella story, the first thirty-nine years of which she presented in her autobiography, Curriculum Vitae (1992), politely blurring the intensity of her darker moments: her relations with her brother, mother, son, husband; a terrifying period of hallucinations and subsequent depression; and the disastrously misplaced love she had felt for two men she had wanted to marry, Howard Sergeant and Derek Stanford. Aged nineteen, Spark left Scotland to marry in Southern Rhodesia, escaping back to Britain on a troopship in 1944 after her divorce. Her son returned in 1945 to be brought up by her parents in Edinburgh while she established herself as a poet and critic in London. After becoming a Roman Catholic in 1954, she began a novel, The Comforters, and with Memento Mori, The Ballad of Peckham Rye and The Bachelors rose rapidly into the literary stratosphere. The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (1961), with its adaptation into a successful stage-play and film, marked her full translation into international celebrity and from that point she went to live first in New York, then Rome, and finally Tuscany where for over thirty years, until her death in 2006, she shared a house with her companion, the artist Penelope Jardine.
By Robert Morrison. 2009
Definitive life of the author of CONFESSIONS OF AN ENGLISH OPIUM-EATER, journalist, political commentator and biographer.Thomas De Quincey's friendships with…leading poets and men of letters in the Romantic and Victorian periods - including William Wordsworth, Samuel Taylor Coleridge and Thomas Carlyle - have long placed him at the centre of 19th-century literary studies. De Quincey also stands at the meeting point in the culture wars between Edinburgh and London; between high art and popular taste; and between the devotees of the Romantic imagination and those of hack journalism. His writing was a tremendous influence on Edgar Allan Poe, Charles Dickens, William Burroughs and Peter Ackroyd.De Quincey is a fascinating (and topical) figure for other reasons too: a self-mythologizing autobiographer whose attitudes to drug-induced creativity and addiction strike highly resonant chords for a contemporary readership. Robert Morrison's biography passionately argues for the critical importance and enduring value of this neglected essayist, critic and biographer.
By Vera Brittain. 1970
This classic memoir of the First World War is now a major motion picture starring Alicia Vikander and Kit Harington.…Includes an afterword by Kate Mosse OBE.In 1914 Vera Brittain was 20, and as war was declared she was preparing to study at Oxford. Four years later her life - and the life of her whole generation - had changed in a way that would have been unimaginable in the tranquil pre-war era.TESTAMENT OF YOUTH, one of the most famous autobiographies of the First World War, is Brittain's account of how she survived those agonising years; how she lost the man she loved; how she nursed the wounded and how she emerged into an altered world. A passionate record of a lost generation, it made Vera Brittain one of the best-loved writers of her time, and has lost none of its power to shock, move and enthral readers since its first publication in 1933.
By Andrew Lycett. 2007
Ground-breaking biography of the creator of fiction's best loved detectiveThough Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's name is recognised the world over,…for decades he was overshadowed by his creation, Sherlock Holmes - one of literature's most enduring characters. Conan Doyle was a man of many contradictions. Romantic, energetic, idealistic and upstanding, he could also be selfish and foolhardy. Lycett assembles the many threads of Conan Doyle's life, including the lasting impact of his domineering mother and his alcoholic father; his affair with a younger woman while his wife lay dying; and his fanatical pursuit of scientific data to prove and explain various supernatural phenomena.Lycett combines access to new material with assiduous research and penetrating insight to offer the most comprehensive, lucid and sympathetic portrait yet of Conan Doyle's personal journey from student to doctor, from world-famous author to ardent spiritualist.
By Lisa St. Aubin De Teran. 2002
I am a wanderer: one with a hoarder's love of houses and things... I am tracing here a memory map…of all the places that have stayed with me and, since this is also a map of all the voyages of discovery, this is also the story of the getting to those places.' In Memory Map, probably her most personal book, Lisa charts a life spent in all corners of the world, from Wimbledon to the Venezuelan Andes, from the Caribbean to Ghana, and confesses to wanderlust and fate as being her chief guides. An itinerant lifestyle creates an unpredictable personal life though and Lisa writes movingly about being the support for three children by three different husbands and also, of the pain of failing to be strong.
By Katharine Whitehorn. 2007
The witty and brilliant autobiography from legendary, beloved and groundbreaking journalist Katharine Whitehorn.'A book to treasure for its wit, honesty,…good sense and warm laughter' DAILY TELEGRAPHQ: A mother's place?A: In the wrong.Much loved for her frankness and humour, Katharine Whitehorn was a legendary journalist who pioneered the first of the personal columns. She told us how it really was. She was funny - and smart. SELECTIVE MEMORY, her autobiography, is about childhood, motherhood, marriage and of course her pioneering work on Fleet Street.Praise for Katharine Whitehorn:'Everyone grabbed the Observer to read her column on a Sunday morning' JILLY COOPER'Wise, witty, mischievous' JAY RAYNER'A meteor: clever, funny, compassionate, insightful, beautiful' RACHEL COOKE