cover image Genet, a Biography of Janet Flanner

Genet, a Biography of Janet Flanner

Brenda Wineapple. Ticknor & Fields, $24.95 (361pp) ISBN 978-0-89919-442-4

While Flanner (1892-1978) saw herself as an observer of the expatriate community in Paris during the 1920s and '30s, first-time author Wineapple's intimate portrait situates the New Yorker 's award-winning foreign correspondent at the center of the city's literary life. Flanner left her native Indianapolis in 1918 for New York, where she became a reluctant member of the erudite ``round table'' wits presiding at the Algonquin Hotel. There she formed an alliance with Harold Ross, who founded the New Yorker in 1925 and gave Flanner her position on the magazine and persona as ``Genet.'' She left husband and country in 1921 with writer Solita Solano, settling with her in Paris. From 1925 to 1975, Flanner filed a bimonthly ``Letter from Paris'' chronicling the lives of the rich, famous and powerful in France, as well as profiles of such artistic and political figures as Edith Wharton, Andre Malraux and Adolf Hitler. Although Flanner was obsessed with ``keeping her private life private,'' Wineapple skillfully reveals the complexity of her family relationships and her long, passionate affairs with Solano and others. Photos not seen by PW. (Dec.)