Carl Rollyson Biography: A User's Guide

ISBN 13: 9781566637800

Biography: A User's Guide

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Carl Rollyson's Biography: A User's Guide is an informative and entertaining text for those interested in biography. No aspect of the genre, from A to Z, goes uncovered: issues around authorized and unauthorized biography, censorship, libel, fair use, public domain (referred to as "PD" by publishers and editors), and a great deal more-including examples drawn from published biographies, as well as general and specific assessments of the biographer's art. Mr. Rollyson demonstrates that biography has more dimensions than are generally gleaned from book reviews and academic discourse. In a lively and provocative style, he argues with other biographers and critics, avoiding the polite and vague tones of many reference books on the subject.

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Review:

Carl Rollyson is to biography what Boswell was to Johnson: indispensable. An excellent biographer himself, Rollyson is also the finest critic of the art as well as a thoroughly delightful guide to the pleasures of reading biography and the perils of writing it.--Patricia O'Toole

Carl Rollyson's Biography: A User's Guide offers something witty and wonderful for everybody. Readers of biographies will be amazed to get a backstage guided tour of how these books are really produced. Writers of biographies should keep a copy under their pillows.--Marion Meade

For anyone mad enough to write a biography, this witty, definitive book is absolutely essential reading. For anyone who merely loves reading biography, it's a smashing insider's guide. Mr. Rollyson is informed and passionate and fun about a subject he knows intimately. He's also unafraid to let his personal opinions show, thank goodness. In short, he's written a wonderfully entertaining biography about the art of biography.--John Heilpern

The topical strategy may help readers who think, much like a biographer, in terms of categories, thus suiting Rollyson's work for writers and students.--Marianne Orme "Library Journal "

With his high-powered and perceptive page-turners on Lillian Hellman, Rebecca West, Martha Gellhorn and Susan Sontag, Carl Rollyson has shown himself to be amongst the very first rank of contemporary biographical practitioners. More than this, however, with Biography: A User's Guide, Rollyson now proves that he is also the genre's foremost and most brilliant anatomist. His new book is typically erudite, mischievous, irresistible, and endlessly stimulating.--Roger Lewis

Reflections on the biographer's art have become too much the domain of literary critics. It is timely that ground has been recovered with Carl Rollyson's Biography: A User's Guide, written by a practicing biographer who mixes reflection with commentary on the practical and ethical aspects of the craft, and who is not afraid to speak his mind. Here's a book to read and heed whatever one's position on the totem pole.--Doug Munro

Rollyson is a lively and opinionated and knowledgeable writer, with much to impart.--Sven Birkerts "The Boston Globe "

Carl Rollyson knows more about biographies than anyone else in the world. His independent mind, his experience, and his voracious reading have equipped him to produce amazing insights into the reading--and writing--of biographies. A unique book.--Ann Waldron, author of The Reconstruction of a Racist

Wide ranging and provocative, Carl Rollyson's guide takes an intrepid journey through the many ramifications of biography--its history, its subjects, its practitioners, and its pitfalls. The section on 'fair use' alone makes his book essential reading for everyone involved in the art of writing lives. Add to those Rollyson's trenchant reviews of biographies new and old, and the guide becomes a master class in the virtues and vices of its subject.--Mary S. Millar

For biographers, Rollyson has written an absolutely essential guide to compelling biographical issues. But Biography: A User's Guide is also a treat for readers of literature--and anyone who loves good gossip. It's studded with gems of provocative insight and behind-the-scenes stories. Rollyson, a seasoned biographer, makes no secret of his biases or his reputation as a biographical outlaw: the story of his adventures in writing his biography of Susan Sontag is more than worth the price of admission. A fascinating book.--Mary Dearborn

About the Author:

Carl Rollyson has written biographies of Rebecca West, Norman Mailer, Martha Gellhorn, Lillian Hellman, Marilyn Monroe, and (with Lisa Paddock) Susan Sontag. He lives in Cape May County, New Jersey.

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