I’m almost finished with Hitch-22 and loved every word of it. I'd have knocked it out a long time ago but I've had too many other seductive distractions...biblio and otherwise. My favorite atheist is sick...as I'm sure you know. Hitchens’ esophageal cancer at least waited till he finished this, the story of his pugnacious journey.
Here are a few of Hitch’s own words regarding his predicament…“The word "metastasized" was the one in the report that first caught my eye, and ear. The alien had colonized a bit of my lung as well as quite a bit of my lymph node. And its original base of operations was located—had been located for quite some time — in my esophagus. I am quietly resolved to resist bodily as best I can, even if only passively, and to seek the most advanced advice. My heart and blood pressure and many other registers are now strong again: indeed, it occurs to me that if I didn’t have such a stout constitution I might have led a much healthier life thus far. Against me is the blind, emotionless alien, cheered on by some who have long wished me ill. But on the side of my continued life is a group of brilliant and selfless physicians plus an astonishing number of prayer groups. On both of these I hope to write next time if—as my father invariably said—I am spared.”
Another Man’s Poison by Charles Fountain remains bed-side as a reference for reconciling a few of the George Frazier finds of late. There’s nothing else to compare Fountain’s Frazier work…it remains the only biography of my evolving hero…Acid Mouth.
Henry Walters and Bernard Berenson: Collector and Connoisseur sits in the queue, yet to be cracked. I’ll blow through it in a flash when I get around to it though. I’ve for some time, been intrigued with the turn of the century collector/hoarders in America whose timing couldn’t have been better. England and the Continent were emptying their houses faster than American new-ish money could buy the goods. Berenson and Duveen were only too happy to expedite, validate and charge for the transfer.
Weintraub’s Whistler biography will be bedside forever. I never tire of Whistler lore and Weintraub did a fine job of capturing the Pocket Mephistopheles.
Genet, Brenda Wineapple’s biography of New Yorker columnist Janet Flanner will probably jump the queue as I just finished my New Yorker flurry. Flanner was on the guest list for Capote’s Black and White Ball.
And last but not least is Mellow’s Charmed Circle: Gertrude Stein and Company. I’ve reveled in the Cone sisters-Baltimore-Matisse-Stein lore forever. This tome is one I pick up from time to time and open to any page…and enjoy.
But then this rolled in….Linley Sambourne: Illustrator and Punch Cartoonist by Leonee Ormond. Sambourne was an epic illustrator for Punch and this biography is long overdue. You need to see the Sambourne House museum in Kensington if you haven’t. Oh, and I’ll leave it to you other art history dilettantes to sort out the Lord Snowden, Viscount Linley kinship to Sambourne.
Author Leonee is the wife of Richard Ormond, great nephew of artist John Singer Sargent. Violet Sargent Ormond was John Singer Sargent’s sister. I’ve never met the Ormonds but can only imagine how fun it would be to spend an evening with them, discussing the late 19th and early 20th century London art scene. I’ve traipsed through Chelsea and Tite street on many an early morning…imagining Whistler, Sargent, Pellegrini, Carlyle, Turner and the sycophant but endearing Greaves brothers who catered to Whistler. Shut up.
Onward. Always reading something.