A Life in the Dark
Selected by The New York Times Book Review as a Notable Book of the Year
The first biography of The New Yorker's influential, powerful, and controversial film critic.
A decade after her death, Pauline Kael remains the most important figure in film criticism today, in part due to her own inimitable style and power within the film community and in part due to the enormous influence she has exerted over an entire subsequent generation of film critics. During her tenure at the New Yorker from 1967 to 1991 she was a tastemaker, a career maker, and a career breaker. Her brash, vernacular writing style often made for an odd fit at the stately New Yorker.
Brian Kellow gives us a richly detailed look at one of the most astonishing bursts of creativity in film history and a rounded portrait of this remarkable (and often relentlessly driven) woman. Pauline Kael is a book that will be welcomed by the same audience that made Mark Harris's Pictures at a Revolution and Peter Biskind's Easy Riders, Raging Bulls bestsellers, and by anyone who is curious about the power of criticism in the arts.
-Frank Rich, The New York Times Book Review
"[A] smart and incisive biography.... [Moviegoers] are in for a colossal eye-opening. Her love for film has no present-day counterpart.... Mr. Kellow's clear, independent view of his subject is his book's most valuable surprise....Kael liked to disparage what she called 'saphead objectivity.' Bur Mr. Kellow is no saphead, and he makes objectivity a great virtue."
-Janet Maslin, The New York Times
-The New Yorker
"Kellow captures his tough leading lady's many twists in a surprisingly engrossing, thoroughly researched biography."
"Kellow, an erudite movie lover...writes beautifully and dexterously interweaves the story of a career long-thwarted with a sensitive reading o his subject's youthful enthusiasm and intellectual growth."
-Todd McCarthy, Hollywood Reporter
"Kael was a master at interpretation, and this book is a highly successful interpretation of the storied critic....A must-read for any devotee of film; compellingly written and recommended for all libraries."
-Library Journal (Starred Review)
"In his fluent, immensely readable study, Kellow fairly represents Kael's tendency to hyperbole (writing of Barbra Streisand or Last Tango in Paris) as well as hurtful ad hominem (George Cukor's Rich and Famous; Shoah)."
-Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)
"Kellow performs biographical magic, telling her story mostly through her most famous (and notorious) reviews of some of the landmark films of the '60s and '70s."
-Kirkus (Starred Review)
"For a biography to do justice to a complex personality and a great mind such as Kael's, extensive research must be matched by acute perception. That requirement is fully, even joyously, met here....Kellow fleshes out these major stages as well as formative minor ones in a greatly revelatory portrait that will stand as the definitive one."
-Booklist (Starred Review)
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