Swans and Pistols: Modeling, Motherhood, and Making It in the Me Generation

Leon Bing, Author . Bloomsbury $25 (230p) ISBN 978-1-59691-481-0

Everyone may have a story in them, but the memoir of former 1960s model-turned-journalist Bing raises the question: does every story need to be told? Bing, who wrote the award-winning gang exposé Do or Die , is less successful at turning her journalist's eye on her own life. The book starts slowly with exposition-heavy memories of her childhood, in which she was raised by her wealthy grandparents and saw her aloof mother only on weekends. The book takes on color when Bing begins to work as a runway model in New York, mainly because of the high-profile people who populate her stories, from mobster Micky Cohen to director Mike Nichols and composer and lyricist Stephen Sondheim. In fact, the book is a name-dropping delight, full of brushups with the rich and famous—Bing had a several years' long affair with artist Ed Ruscha, was close friends with Mama Cass and hobnobbed with plenty of actors. While Bing can turn a lovely phrase and displays intelligence, the book is so outwardly focused that Bing herself seems merely a bit player in her own life. The book really comes alive near the end when curiosity about homeless kids in Venice, Calif., leads her to write an article that unexpectedly launches her journalism career. (Nov.)

Reviewed on: 09/28/2009
Release date: 10/01/2009
Open Ebook - 240 pages - 978-1-60819-131-4
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