Robert A. Caro
If there’s anyone in the world equipped to provide insights into the art of biography, it’s Robert Caro. The author of the multivolume The Years of Lyndon Johnson and winner of two Pulitzer Prizes, Caro, takes readers through numerous aspects of his craft, from researching to writing, granting unprecedented access to how one the great biographers creates his masterpieces.
Vivian Maier Developed
Biographer Ann Marks was given full access to the archives of Vivian Maier, a nanny who lived a double life as a major photographer, allowing Marks to write the first definitive account of the life of one the 20th century’s most enigmatic and talented artists.
A Dream About Lightning Bugs
As the front man for Ben Folds Five and a successful solo artist, Ben Folds has been entertaining and moving audiences for more than two decades. Now, in A Dream About Lightning Bugs, Folds offers a glimpse behind the “normcore” icon, his classic songs, and the magnetic personality that animates them.
Life in the Garden
Renowned novelist Penelope Lively, the author of such inimitable works as How It All Began, Moon Tiger, and The Photograph, invites readers into her life, her mind, and her garden. Reflecting on the writers she admires and the various geographies she’s lived in (from her childhood home in Cairo to her own homes in Oxford and London), Lively proves she’s just as brilliant in memoir as she is in fiction.
Life with Picasso
Who better to demythologize an iconic figure like Picasso than a person who knew him, loved him, and even has his children? Françoise Gilot is exactly this person, and much more. A fascinating individual in her own right, Gilot spent ten years with Picasso, and her resulting memoir is as much a portrait of a great artist as it is a testament to the tenacious intelligence of its author.
The Scandal of the Century
Gabriel García Márquez
One of the titans of 20th-century literature, Gabriel García Márquez—when he wasn’t composing classic novels like One Hundred Years of Solitude and Love in the Time of Cholera—also produced a good amount of journalism, for which he said he wanted to be remembered. Now for the first time comes a collection of his nonfiction, so that our appreciation for such a gifted writer will expand to include a new facet of his art.
Girl Boy Girl
JT Leroy was actually the nom de plume of Laura Albert, who began writing at the behest of a psychologist at a suicide hotline, to whom she’d used her pseudonym. Feeling her work to be too raw to be known as its author, she enlisted her sister-in-law Savannah Knoop to stand in as Albert’s male alter ego. Girl Boy Girl is Knoop’s account of her time as Leroy, which is certainly one of the more intriguing chapters of literary history.
No Walls and the Recurring Dream
Ani DiFranco has been putting out albums for nearly 30 years (more than 20 of them!) and has become an important voice for multiple generations. Her memoir No Walls and the Recurring Dream is DiFranco’s own story of ambition, creativity, and activism—a narrative of artistic independence (she’s released all her albums through her own label) and personal struggle, iconoclasm and triumph.
How wonderful is art that not only are we moved and affected by a given work, but we can also discover the story behind it, thereby doubling its power, or at least offering an alternate perception? These are, in fact, the two ways we can fully know a cultural artifact: through the study of the work itself, and through the study of the artist who created it. Each perspective provides different conclusions but taken together, we can get as close to the whole picture as possible. Here are eight books about artists that go beyond the work and into the minds and homes and histories of the people responsible for some of the most influential and adored art of the recent past.
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