Callas Kissed Me... Lenny Too!: A Critic’s Memoir

John Gruen, Author . powerHouse $29.95 (327p) ISBN 978-1-57687-424-0

Art, music and dance critic Gruen’s exuberant and enjoyable memoir begins with his birth in France in 1926 and his cultured though emotionally complicated childhood in Berlin, Milan and (fleeing fascist anti-Semitism) New York. Gruen wittily recounts his college years in Iowa, where he met his wife, artist Jane Wilson—he was so obsessed that he switched his field to art history just to enroll in all of her courses. Gruen, who was music and art critic for the New York Herald Tribune and chief art critic for New York magazine, focuses on their lean and later prosperous years at the center of New York’s cultural world during the 1950s and ’60s, a world including e.e. cummings, Leonard Bernstein, Samuel Beckett and Rudolf Nureyev. Gruen’s writing is breezy, ebullient (exclamation points abound) and light. At times Gruen confirms those who’ve called him a “sycophant of the super-famous.” Often even more fascinating than his celebrity circle is Gruen’s personal life: his openness about his bisexuality, his fraught relationship with his parents and his clearly unwavering love for his accomplished and supportive wife. This will appeal to the general reader who would like an insider’s view of some of the most interesting figures in the visual and performing arts. 100 b&w and color photos. (Apr.)

Reviewed on: 01/07/2008
Release date: 05/01/2008
Genre: Nonfiction
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