Flash: The Making of Weegee the Famous

Christopher Bonanos. Holt, $30 (400p) ISBN 978-1-62779-306-3
New York magazine senior editor Bonanos (Instant: The Story of Polaroid) constructs an energetic and informative biography of photographer Arthur Fellig (1899–1968), better known as Weegee, whose crime scene photos captured the grit and grime of New York City in the 1940s. The book traces Weegee’s career from his early years as a “squeegee boy” at the New York Times, where his chief responsibility was drying prints, to his darkroom work at Acme Newspictures, where it is rumored that one of his colleagues gave him the name Weegee, and finally to his rise as the photographer of “crashes, crimes scenes, arrests, and fires.” Bonanos details how Weegee created his fame using a combination of talent and relentless self-promotion (he was known to introduce himself as “the world’s greatest living photographer”), but the book’s most revealing sections are actually about the dramatic waning of his fame toward the end of his career, as he started to take gag pictures for curious business ventures, including a line of greeting cards and posters for dorm rooms. Bonano’s revelatory portrait of “Weegee the Famous” will interest general readers, as well as those with a special interest in photojournalism. 65 b&w photos. (June)
Reviewed on: 03/19/2018
Release date: 06/05/2018
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 400 pages - 978-1-250-22987-8
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