Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Whose Life Most Interests You?


Megan at the Tigers game.


I went to the library today for some audiobooks to take on a long drive. We thought a biography might be fun. We came home with four crime fiction novels and David Sedaris.
Whose biography would you be most interested in reading on a long car trip? Give me some ideas?

37 comments:

George said...

I'm reading George Simenon's biographical novel, PEDIGREE. Amazing! And Megan looks like she's enjoying herself at that game!

Charles Gramlich said...

Most of the biographies I read are about writers, or occassionally musicians. Is there a good bio out there on Cormac McCarthy? I'd read that. I have Clive Barker's autobigraphy and may read that, but it sure is a huge book.

R.T. said...

William Blake! Okay, so that makes me a bit weird. There is, however, something about his life as it influenced his art and poetry that keeps me quite fascinated. With genius colored by madness, according to Wordsworth, Blake's life is worth a close look (again).

pattinase (abbott) said...

The problem with most bios is that they are too long. I liked that series of shorter ones out a few years back. I have Raymond Carver's, John Cheever's and Harper Lee's half read. I don't know that writers are all that interesting after childhood and the early years. Joyce Carol Oates was the most boring life I ever read. Although the Fitzgerald and Max Perkins bios by was it Scott Berg 30 years ago were fantastic.

Deb said...

I just finished FURIOUS LOVE, not so much a biography as a history of the great psychodrama that was the relationship between Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. I think that would be a great listen on a long drive. Right now I'm reading Humphrey Burton's biography of Leonard Bernstein and it's very interesting--even for someone like me who can hardly pick out "Chopsticks" on the piano. I haven't read the new Emily Dickinson bio, LIVES LIKE LOADED GUNS, but it's gotten a lot of good reviews and apparently focuses just as much on Dickinson's brother's extra-martial affair (which took place in Dickinson's own living room) as on the poet herself. Also, any of Claire Tomalin's biographies (Pepys, Hardy, actress Dorothea Jordan, etc.) would make great listening.

Anonymous said...

It wasn't last night's game vs. Tampa Bay, I hope. No wait, that was in Florida.

Hemingway's life was so full of incident that his bio (I've read many) is always interesting.

George, I have Pedigree of course, but haven't read it. Maybe I should. I have read a number of Simenon biographies.

Leon Edel's five volume Henry James bio held my attention throughout. And you can't go wrong with Winston Churchill. Or David McCullough's John Adams.

If it's baseball you want, I can recommend Nice Guys Finish Last by Leo Durocher. Or for something Detroit-oriented, how about Ty Cobb: A Biography by Al Stump?

Jeff M.

Richard S. Wheeler said...

My wife and I once listened to Galileo's Daughter on a journey, and were rapt.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Toronto and the Tigers lost. They are in big trouble now-so many injuries. Megan is a Mets fan in NY.
Oh, these are great suggestions. I will see in my library has some of them in audio.

Anonymous said...

The Mets are really in sorry shape at the moment. They were the first (and only) team all year to lose a three game series to Arizona and, in general, their offense has taken the season off.

Jeff M.

Todd Mason said...

Emma Goldman. I read through the long version of LIVING MY LIFE and was only disappointed that she devoted so much time to trying to justify the quixotic (at best) attempt at Propaganda By THe Deed of the love of her life, Alexander Berkman (but, then, his imprisonment was also one of the great hardships of her life). Her experiences ranging from championing (essentially all the) modern arts to reproductive rights among other human rights, both within and alongside anarchism, make for compelling reading. Her experiences in returning to Russia, now the USSR, and the revelations of the perfidy, to put it kindly, of the Leninists, likewise (and such nuggets as her admiration for Eugene Debs and her disdain for most of the hacks, my word but close to hers, in the Socialist Party around him).

She's a good writer...most writers' autobiographies are more interesting than their biographies, particularly when one knows where they might be recreating or reimangining incident (which throws us back to their biographers, and the usual weighing and estimating the degrees of truth available, the analysis of whose interests are being furthered). One of the best collective biographies/autobiographies of writers I've read was one of my early FFBs, Damon Knight's THE FUTURIANS, which made for an interesting contrast with Frederik Pohl's and Isaac Asimov's memoirs, and David Kyle's occasional autobiographical essays and the autobiographical aspects of the likes of Donald Wollheim's THE UNIVERSE MAKERS, as they all are figures in the Futurian Society of New York, the 1930s fannish group that included a startling number of eventually (and some rather quickly) important editors, writers, agents, illustrators, etc.

Margot Kinberg said...

Patti - Oh, what an interesting question! There are so many biographies that I'd like to read that it's hard to just focus on one or two. I'd love to read more about some of my favorite authors. For instance, I'm always fascinated by Agatha Christie's life. Also Dorothy Sayers and Ngaio Marsh. Maybe it's just that I love that era of crime novels. I also don't know nearly enough about Edith Pargiter (Ellis Peters).

Todd Mason said...

And, Hola (holla back) a la camisa de Megan.

Todd Mason said...

Robert Lowndes, too...who Edward Hoch was always quick to remember as the editor who "discovered" him...

Richard R. said...

When it comes to autobiographies, I read more on news persons than anything else: Edward R. Morrow, Walter Cronkite, Dan Rather, Harry Reasoner, Howard K. Smith, etc.

If I were choosing today, it would probably be an autobiography of Charles Karault.

pattinase (abbott) said...

It will come down to which I can find on audio. For the last three trips, Phil has taken Denis Johnson's Tree of Smoke with us-20 CDs. I better come up with something or else.
Megan gave me the low-down on the Mets which seems a lot like the Tigers. But at least they're not the Pirates.

Todd Mason said...

Among recent titles, BONOBO HANDSHAKE by Vanessa Woods...unabridged Denis Johnson does seem like it might be a Bit Much. Have you read or listened to GALILEO'S DAUGHTER?

Mike Wilkerson said...

I've read a ton of bio's, but the one I really want to read is Hank Williams'. Cat lived a hard ass life and died at 29, yet still influences music on a monumental scale.

And how 'bout those Tampa Bay Rays...?

pattinase (abbott) said...

I checked and we don't have GD on audio. But it looked good.
Anyone could no hit the Tigers right now. Sad.
I remember reading Dan Rather's memoirs-before he started to seem like a bit of a nut though.
Murrow's would interest me most.

David Cranmer said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
David Cranmer said...

John and Abigail Adams always fascinate and Frederick Douglass is someone I want to know more about.

I just finished The Talented Mrs. Highsmith and that was a insightful read.

pattinase (abbott) said...

My husband read the Highsmith bio. I had read one about her life with Maryjane Meeker not long ago. They lived in my husband's hometown so the references to places we knew was fun.

Todd Mason said...

Marijane Meaker. (I keep thinking of Ralph Meeker, too.) Probably not an accident she loves her some pseuds.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Todd, if I ever get a novel accepted I hope you will edit it for me.

Todd Mason said...

Iht'dt bee mai pleshure, Ma'ham.

Kent Morgan said...

A friend just loaned me the audio version of one the greatest baseball books, The Glory of Their Times by Lawrence Ritter. It's the story of the early days of baseball told by the men who played it including Tigers Sam Crawford and Davy Jones who played in the outfield with Ty Cobb. Tigers Hall of Fame outfielder Goose Goslin also is interviewed.

pattinase (abbott) said...

I read that one!! I used to read quite a lot of baseball books and that was one of them. Had to keep up with my son. Who was the guy who wrote for THE NEW YORKER. I especially enjoyed his books. Can't believe I forgot the name.

Deb said...

Are you thinking about Roger Angell, Patti? He was on Charlie Rose last night--although it might have been a rerun.

pattinase (abbott) said...

That's the guy. My only problem with his stories, which I loved, were he favored east and west coast teams so greatly. What a fantastic writer though.

Travis Erwin said...

Twain would be a good read I think.

Ron Scheer said...

I get too impatient with biographies. Couldn't recommend a good one if you twisted my arm.

Barbara Martin said...

There's a new biography out now with the second volume being released in September or October about Pierre Elliot Trudeau. I'm interested in getting that. He did an admirable job as Prime Minister when he was in office, changing how Canada would grow in the future.

George said...

Patti, I just heard Tina Brown rave about this memoir on NPR. I'm going to read it, you might be interested, too:

'Must You Go?'

Lady Antonia Fraser is the author of several celebrated biographies, including Mary Queen of Scots, The Wives of Henry VIII and Marie Antoinette.

In her latest book, Fraser looks inward to write about her 33-year relationship with Harold Pinter. Brown remembers the sensational items that ran in British gossip columns when the news broke that Pinter and Fraser — both of whom were married when they first met — were having an affair.

Fraser's first husband was Hugh Fraser, a Scottish nobleman with whom she had six children. "Antonia had always had interesting love affairs on the side," Brown explains, "but they were always kept very quiet." She met Pinter at a dinner party her sister was throwing in 1975.

"It's an instant sort of chemical attraction between them," Brown recalls. "And at the end of the night, she goes back into the room to say goodbye to him, and you see the fatefulness of the encounters."

When Fraser approached Pinter to say farewell, he turned to her and replied, "Must you go?" And even though Fraser had dozens of reasons to leave — in Brown's words, she must have been thinking about "the carpool tomorrow morning with the six kids, the book I'm writing, the research, I have to get back to my family, to my husband" — she told Pinter that she had decided to stay.

The rest is history.

pattinase (abbott) said...

That sounds just great, especially since I've read some of her other books. Off to look.

pattinase (abbott) said...

That sounds just great, especially since I've read some of her other books. Off to look.

Erik Donald France said...

The Penguin Lives bio. series is excellent -- short and to the point. Ex., Bobbie Ann Mason's Elvis Presley: A Life.

Maybe a short book on Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz? Or Alice Paul?

K. A. Laity said...

Oh, I completely understand that moment with Pinter; sometimes you just know. I definitely want to pick that one up. Fraser is good.

I loved the Highsmith book but I couldn't keep it for long enough to read it as it's in high demand. I did enjoy the other Highsmith bio by one of her lovers that Todd recommended to me. Great fun! I am a sucker for writer's bios/autobios. I loved the Amis bio Lucky Him; really captured the best and worst of the man. I haven't read it in years but the Dorothy Parker bio You Might as Well Live made a huge impression on me as a morose teenager and gave me a new role model.

R.T. you are not weird -- Blake is a genius.

K. A. Laity said...

Ah, wondering why neither our library, SUNY's library or the local library system has it: US release date is November?!