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From the book: "This first life of Edmund Wilson completes my trilogy on modern American writers that began with the biographies of Hemingway and Fitzgerald. ...Wilson, whom Gore Vidal called "America's best mind," also had extraordinarily wide interests and ranged far beyond literature. He wrote about art, theater, music, film, popular culture as well as political events, foreign travel, the revolutionary tradition in Europe, the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Zuni and Iroquois Indians, the American Civil War, the culture and politics of Canada. He was the master of the biographical essay and the autobiographical memoir, and was the greatest diarist of his time."
From the acclaimed biographer of Ernest Hemingway, Humphrey Bogart, and Errol Flynn comes the first complete biography of the legendary John Huston, the extraordinary director, writer, actor, and bon vivant who made iconic films such as The Maltese Falcon, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, The Asphalt Jungle, and The African Queen--and lived one of the most vibrant, eventful lives in Hollywood history. An actor in the 1920s and scriptwriter in the 1930s, John Huston made his dazzling directorial debut in 1941 with The Maltese Falcon. His career as a filmmaker spanned some fifty-seven years and yielded thirty-seven feature films. He made most of his movies abroad, spent much of his life in Ireland and Mexico, and remains one of the most intelligent and influential filmmakers in history. With equal attention given to Huston's impressive artistic output and tempestuous personal relationships, biographer Jeffrey Meyers presents a vivid narrative of Huston's remarkably rich creative life. The son of the famous stage and screen actor Walter Huston, John Huston was born in Nevada City, Missouri, and suffered from a weak heart that forced him to live as an invalid for much of his childhood. One day, however, he impulsively left his sickbed, dove over a waterfall, swam into a raging river and began to lead a strenuous life. He became an expert sportsman as well as a boxer, bullfighter, hunter, soldier, gambler and adventurer. Though he didn't finish high school, he was a man of true genius: a serious painter and amusing raconteur, playwright and story writer, stage and screen actor, director of plays on Broadway and operas at La Scala, autobiographer and political activist who crusaded against Senator Joseph McCarthy's anticommunist witch hunts in Hollywood. He was a discerning collector of art and connoisseur of literature, food and wine. Passionate about horses and women, he had five successively younger wives. Meyers chronicles Huston's extraordinarily peripatetic life and examines his rise as a great masculine artist in the formidable tradition of Melville, Conrad and Hemingway, whose persona, ethos, prose style and virile code had a powerful influence on his life and work. Thirty-four of Huston's thirty-seven films adapted important novels, stories and plays, and Meyers perceptively describes how Huston brilliantly transformed the written word into the cinematic image. Huston's dominant theme is the almost impossible quest, tempered by detachment and irony. His heroes sacrifice honor in pursuit of wealth but fail in that venture, are mocked by cruel fate and remain defiant in the face of defeat. Based on research in Huston's personal and professional archives, and interviews with his children, friends and colleagues, this is the dramatic story of a courageous artist who, Meyers persuasively argues, is "one of the most fascinating men who ever lived."From the Hardcover edition.
Samuel Johnson is no doubt a giant among literary giants: poet and essayist, moralist and conversationalist, and dictionary creator. But Meyers (author and Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature) takes readers past Johnson's intellect to reveal him as a man filled with contradiction who suffered from severe depression, physical and mental ailments, and a mercurial personality. The author took advantage of archives, letters, and manuscripts as well as recently uncovered information about his physical deformities and their effects on his life. The book is both interesting and lively reading. Annotation c2010 Book News, Inc. , Portland, OR (booknews. com)
This text provides an account of the life and work of one of American most important novelists, Scott Fitzgerald, a romantic and tragic figure who embodies the "Jazz Age" between the two world wars. It describes how Fitzgerald took his material almost entirely from his own life. Despite early success with "The Great Gatsby", his life became a struggle against failure and lack of confidence. Fitzgerald humbly accepted the harsh criticism meted out by friends Ernest Hemingway and Edmund Wilson, but also compromised his talent to support an extravagant lifestyle and later, his mentally-ill wife's hospital fees. Meyers emphasizes Fitzgerald's alcoholism, Zelda's illnesses and Fitzgerald's relationships and love affairs before and after her breakdown. His tragic marriage with Zelda paradoxically both blighted him and helped him mature as man and writer: out of that tortured union blossomed the masterpiece, "Tender is the Night".
A frequent biographer, Meyers plies his trade on British writer Maugham (1874-1965). Among the little known details revealed are his days at Hiedelberg and on Capri, his medical training, his wartime espionage, his quarrels and friendships, and his love affairs and committed relationships. Annotation ©2004 Book News, Inc. , Portland, OR (booknews. com)
Sunset Boulevard (1950) is one of the most famous films in the history of Hollywood, and perhaps no film better represents Hollywood's vision of itself. Billy Wilder collaborated on the screenplay with the very able Charles Brackett, and with D. M. Marshman Jr., who later joined the team. Together they created a film both allusive and literate, with Hollywood's worst excesses and neuroses laid out for all to see. After viewing Sunset Boulevard Louis B. Mayer exclaimed: "We should throw this Wilder out of town!" The New York Times, however, gave the movie a rave review, praising "that rare blend of pungent writing, expert acting, masterly direction, and unobtrusively artistic photography." The film was nominated for Best Picture, and Wilder won an Academy Award for Best Story and Best Screenplay. This facsimile edition of Sunset Boulevard makes it possible to get as much pleasure from reading the highly intelligent screenplay as from seeing the film. Jeffrey Meyers's introduction provides an intriguing array of background details about Wilder, the film's casting and production, and the lives of those connected to what has become a classic.
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