Biography & Autobiography

RECENT REVIEWS

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...

Susan Sontag: Critic and Crusader

Susan Sontag: Critic and Crusader

The following is a feature article from the most recent edition of the LARB Quarterly Journal: Spring 2015. To pick up your copy of the Journal, become a member of the Los Angeles Review of Books...

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...

At Home in the World

At Home in the World

JOHN UPDIKE never wanted a biographer, but he wrote an essay, “On Literary Biography,” in honor of the 200th volume produced by the Dictionary of Literary Biography. (The essay partly appeared in ...

Season of Saul

Season of Saul

ROLAND BARTHES once said that “the only sort of interview that one could, if forced to, defend would be where the author is asked to articulate what he cannot write.” One could set a similar stand...

Life Was Fiction in Disguise

Life Was Fiction in Disguise

THE POET James Merrill received his first negative review when he was 16. It was written by one of his teachers and published in the high school paper. Although appreciative of Merrill’s verse, the...

Beyond the Shadow of Samuel Johnson

Beyond the Shadow of Samuel Johnson

“I WAS SURE I had genius, and was not deficient in easiness of expression, but was at a loss for something to say, and, when I set myself seriously to think of writing, that I wanted a subject.” S...

The Method Singer

The Method Singer

THERE SHE STANDS in the spotlight on a dark stage, an elegant woman wearing a white gown and a white gardenia in her hair. Depending on the year, Eleanora Fagan is either young and fresh and radiant, ...

Finding Susan

Finding Susan

IF YOU READ ANYTHING about Susan Sontag written since her death in 2004, it won’t take long for you to stumble across the fact that she could be, as Terry Castle puts it in her agonizingly generous...

An African American Life?

An African American Life?

NO ONE’S SURPRISED to learn that millions of African Americans in the 19th century were slaves. Even the poorest student of US history has a hard time ignoring this fact. But for those of us who te...

Richard Pryor’s Comedy of Fear

Richard Pryor’s Comedy of Fear

POETS, ROCK STARS, and Method actors may go to emotional extremes for their art, but we require a little more sobriety from stand-up comedians. Our contract with them is tight: we pay them for laughs ...

After The Fall

After The Fall

THERE’S A CERTAIN doggedness required to play the bass: a sonic obligation to carry the weight of others while keeping things together. It’s no surprise, then, that the recent biography from Steve...