New Books - Memoir & Biography

The next installment of my book booty for the past month or so. This time it's memoir, biography & autobiography - perhaps my favourite genre. Here's what I couldn't resist (from the top):

Aunts Up the Cross by Robin Eakin - When I worked in second-hand books I always used to see this one, but it's only recently that I have discovered what a fab book it is. A memoir of the author's various eccentric old aunts who lived in bedsits in Kings Cross in the 1930s. This is pure Sumner Locke Elliott territory, and I think I'm going to love it.

From Phnom Penh to Paradise by Var Hong Ashe & The Lost Executioner by Nic Dunlop - My next book is about Cambodia, so naturally I have been reading lots of books about the place. These are the two latest I've found - the first seems to be standard survivor memoir and the second is a biography of the truly abominable Comrade Duch, the overseer of the notorious Tuol Sleng torture chamber.

Notebooks by Tennessee Williams and Tennessee: Cry of the Heart by Dotson Rader - Reading recently Justin Spring's absolutely brilliant Secret Historian caused me to remember how much I adore Tennessee Williams, so I have been trying to fill a few gaps in my collection.

The Letters of Noel Coward ed. by Barry Day - Another bitter old theatrical queen. Have I mentioned how much I adore reading letters and diaries?

Mrs. Simpson by Charles Higham - One of my cult figures is the incredible Wallis Simpson, the woman who stole a king. I can't believe I haven't read this before.

Self-Portrait With Friends: The Selected Diaries of Cecil Beaton ed. Richard Buckle - It's occurring to me just how camp this pile of books is. But who doesn't love Cecil?

Too Brief a Treat: The Letters of Truman Capote - Capote is a god to me, the very epitome of wasted talent.

Just Kids by Patti Smith - This one won the National Book Award over Secret Historian, so I thought it must be pretty damn fabulous. Plus I love Patti, and this memoir of her relationship with Robert Mapplethorpe promises to be fascinating.

Sal Mineo by Michael Gregg Michaud - The beautiful Sal was always the real star in my book, though he lived forever in James Dean's shadow. From a youthful reading of Kenneth Anger's wonderful Hollywood Babylon I was aware of Sal's shadow side, and the moment I heard about this biography I knew I had to get it.

Midnight by Arlene Gottfried - This one's kind of cheating because it's a photo-memoir, but how fascinating! The photographer charts a long friendship with a handsome schizophrenic in photographs of him taken throughout his life. It's completely hypnotic.


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