Genet, A Biography of Janet Flanner by Brenda Wineapple (1989)
A great read! This easy to read biography is of the woman who wrote for 50 years as the Paris correspondent for New Yorker magazine.
She first went to Paris in 1921. Her observations of her times included the Second world War.
She asked: “When I die, let it not be said I wrote for the New Yorker for fifty years. Let it be said that once I stood by a friend.”
Despite her admonition, she is remembered for her ‘Letters from Paris’ as well as her personal friendships with writers and artists who were also ex-pats.
Give Us Each Day, the Diary of Alice Dunbar-Nelson, edited by Gloria T. Hull (1984)
Clouding her own work as a poet and speaker, Alice Dunbar-Nelson lived in the shadow of her first husband.
Paul Laurence Dunbar was acclaimed as the ‘first famous African American poet.’ She most often was asked to speak about him and to recite his poems.
While it is often tedious to follow a diary, this is edited to keep the reader interested in what happens next. The introduction by the editor is most informative.
Like Janet Flanner, Dunbar-Nelson associated with writers and other artists, was on the fringe of the Harlem Renaissance and fought with the ‘injustices’ of her day.
Money was always an issue for her. She struggled through the Depression years to keep her extended family afloat and to assist her husband in his dreams to get a political appointment.
The book covers years important for the country and for the financial elevation of African Americans. She travelled repeatedly to make speeches. This caused her at times to use her identity as a white person to get better accommodations.
Despite these setbacks, Dunbar-Nelson is seen as devoted to her family and her writing.
These two women present interesting contrasts in their choices and the circumstances of their lives.
Dr. Robert Farris Thompson attended a Studio Museum in Harlem forum on October 20, 2011. The interview is posted on the Museum website. Dr. Thompson is a professor at Yale University and famous for his work in African art. His recent book, Aesthetic of the Cool: Afro-Atlantic Art and Music builds on his research.
The interviewer was Dr. Lowery Stokes. She was a former president of the museum.