Biography & Autobiography

RECENT REVIEWS

Pop Music, Not Confession

Pop Music, Not Confession

“THE ONLY BOOK I can write,” Elvis Costello says in the 2014 documentary Mystery Train, “is the one that nobody else can know but me.” I can’t help but wonder if Costello said this with his ...

Marvin’s Muse

Marvin’s Muse

MARVIN GAYE’S first wife was 17 years older than him; his second wife was 17 years younger. This may sound at first like a most ideal arrangement — experience and vitality arriving each in their t...

Nabokov’s Geographies

Nabokov’s Geographies

“BIOGRAPHY,” observed the Edwardian poet Edmund Bentley in one of his trademark clerihew poems, “is different from Geography / Geography is about maps, / But Biography is about chaps.” Sound ...

Free and Fearless Inquiry

Free and Fearless Inquiry

TO TELL THE STORY of the life of another is no small feat, requiring both small and large contexts. And it is not something anthropologists do, as biography is most often the province of historians an...

Saint Joan

Saint Joan

IN HIS REVIEW of Kim Gordon’s Girl in a Band, Jason Diamond seemed to speak for many in writing that “what Girl in a Band does is cements [Gordon’s] status as the Generation X version of Joan D...

With Fire in Her Heart

With Fire in Her Heart

HAVING PUBLISHED two acclaimed memoirs in the space of a year, Wendy C. Ortiz is establishing herself as a powerful voice in the literary community. Her first book, Excavation, was an original narrati...

The Uncooperative Facts of an Elusive Life

The Uncooperative Facts of an Elusive Life

SOME AMONG HER CONTEMPORARIES called her an Eastern Mata Hari, thereby identifying her as a seductive and exotic spy. Others used the appellation “Joan of Arc of the Orient,” gesturing toward her ...

Fortune’s Fool

Fortune’s Fool

NORMAN MAILER NOTED in Oswald’s Tale: An American Mystery that when it comes to presidential assassins, Americans prefer tragedy to absurdity. “[W]e feel better,” he wrote, “inexplicably bette...

Choices Aren’t Even Choices

Choices Aren’t Even Choices

LIKE EVERY WRITER dissatisfied with his lot — by which I mean pretty much every writer — Jesse Browner suffers from Geoff Dyer envy. The idiosyncratic Brit (Out of Sheer Rage, Jeff in Venice, But ...

Jerry Stahl Faces Down a New Terror

Jerry Stahl Faces Down a New Terror

Call me sentimental, there’s nothing but righteous heroin to compare with the rush I got just paddling around, newborn propped against my chest-pelt, feeling her 3:00a.m. screams calm to coos as I t...

How Cherokee Territory Became the “Deep South”

How Cherokee Territory Became the “Deep South”

ON THE MORNING of March 27, 1814, two men found themselves on opposite ends of a battlefield, with the Tallapoosa River and about 100 acres of Native American land between them. One was General Andrew...