Memoir Recommendations
July 26, 2004 12:20 PM   Subscribe

My wife likes reading biographies and memoires, particularly of women in culture and the arts. Think "Reading Lolita in Tehran" rather than, say, "Mornings on Horseback." Any recommendations for a birthday present?
posted by mojohand to Media & Arts (17 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
by Anne Conover
October 2001
368 p. , 6 1/8 x 9 1/4
Cloth 0-300-08703-9 $40.00

discussed here
posted by matteo at 12:28 PM on July 26, 2004

and these, even if out of print, can be found on eBay and in used bookstores

Intimate Visions: The Photographs of Dorothy Norman

Looking for the Light: The Hidden Life and Art of Marion Post Wolcott
posted by matteo at 12:30 PM on July 26, 2004

I just ordered The Sisters: The Saga of the Mitford Family, on the recommendation of an aunt. She always gives me good books for Christmas, so I trust her judgement.
posted by amarynth at 12:53 PM on July 26, 2004

One of my all-time favorites is Daughter of Persia, the autobiography of Sattareh Farman Farmaian, who saw the fall of the Shah, studied in America, and went back to introduce the concept of social work to her home country.
posted by frykitty at 12:58 PM on July 26, 2004

Savage Beauty, by Nancy Milford, is a remarkably fascinating book about poet Edna St Vincent Millay, who led a wonderfully hedonistic and complicated life.
posted by judith at 1:34 PM on July 26, 2004

The Obstacle Race: The Fortunes of Women Painters and Their Work
by Germaine Greer
isn't a bio about one person, but instead looks at why women artists have been ignored by critics and history. Lots of little bios of artists you have never heard of...
posted by th3ph17 at 2:06 PM on July 26, 2004

I haven't read The Bone Woman yet, but I watched an interview with the author and it sounded amazing. The author, Clea Koff, is a forensic anthropologist who writes about her experiences in Kosovo, Rwanda, Bosnia etc. Not quite in the arts category, but might be just up your wife's alley nonetheless.
posted by widdershins at 2:06 PM on July 26, 2004

i think i've seen a biography recently of tina modotti (sigh...) that would probably be interesting, and i guess there must be some frieda kahlo books out, given the recent film.
posted by andrew cooke at 3:28 PM on July 26, 2004

Rebecca West: Black Lamb and Grey Falcon
posted by amberglow at 3:37 PM on July 26, 2004

Baghdad Diaries: War, Exile, and Identity, by Nuha Al Radi

High Albania: A Victorian Traveller's Balkan Odyssey, by Edith Durham (text online here, if you want to check it out -- an amazing account of a daring woman's adventures among truly wild mountain people a century ago)

Eleanor of Aquitaine and the Four Kings, by Amy Kelly

All of these are compulsively readable. As is Black Lamb and Grey Falcon (amberglow's pick), but I feel obliged to warn that it's shamelessly pro-Serb and reads oddly after the ethnic wars of the 1990s.
posted by languagehat at 5:26 PM on July 26, 2004

I recommend 'Where She Came from: A Daughter's Search for Her Mother's History' by Helen Epstein.

It's a biography of a holocaust survivor, but more importantly, it's a meditation on how women pass on their histories to their daughters. It's a remarkable book.
posted by gesamtkunstwerk at 7:15 PM on July 26, 2004

Sorry for the double answer-- I love to read. If your wife liked Reading Lolita in Tehran, she may like Eva Hoffman's Lost in Translation.

Eva Hoffman, a successful writer and editor, asked herself if she really wanted to marry her fiance. She answered in English 'Yes', but when she thought about the question harder, she reverted to her native Polish and answered, "no"
It's about her dual identity as a Polish American. This is an intensely readable glimpse into life as an immigrant.
posted by gesamtkunstwerk at 7:33 PM on July 26, 2004

this about the Marchesa Casati looks good too.
posted by amberglow at 8:13 PM on July 26, 2004

The Lives of Lee Miller. See this mefi thread for some background info.
posted by misteraitch at 11:27 PM on July 26, 2004

women of the beat generation
posted by raaka at 11:40 PM on July 26, 2004

there's a new bio of frances hodgson burnett, Frances Hodgson Burnett: The Unexpected Life of the Author of 'The Secret Garden' by Gretchen Holbrook Gerzina, reviewed in the times
posted by crush-onastick at 2:17 PM on July 28, 2004

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