What Did I Do?: The Unauthorized Autobiography

Larry Rivers, Author, Arnold Weinstein, With
Larry Rivers, Author, Arnold Weinstein, With HarperCollins Publishers $30 (498p) ISBN 978-0-06-019007-1
Reviewed on: 09/28/1992
Release date: 10/01/1992
Rivers's exuberantly hip, sexually freewheeling autobiography displays his relentless, almost exhibitionistic candor, as some of his paintings do. Born Yitzroch Loiza Grossberg in 1923, he was raised in the Bronx by a hypercritical mother and a father reportedly guilty of bizarre sexual improprieties with children. A bebop jazz saxophonist with a heroin habit, Rivers abandoned his first wife and their sons in 1947. He later married his Welsh housekeeper, a ``deliciously unique female''; they separated in 1968. Written with playwright-director Weinstein, this gossipy collage dissects the incestuous social world of a New York avant-garde that included John Ashbery, Helen Frankenthaler, Kenneth Koch, Andy Warhol, LeRoi Jones and Delmore Schwartz. Rivers is most emotive when discussing his ``romantic fling'' with poet Frank O'Hara. Somewhere inside this messy self-portrait is the intriguing story of how Rivers found his path as a brash, innovative artist. Illustrated. 25,000 first printing; author tour. (Nov.)
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