Reviews

  • "It’s a good time, this book. There’s a feeling of arriving at a party where everyone is at least two drinks (and who knows what else) ahead of you, and the hostess has you by the arm and is barreling you into the thick of things, talking a mile a minute, catching you up on everyone’s hidden agendas, all before you’ve even shucked off your coat … Gobbets of gossip tucked into every scene and wild happenings in the corner of your eye ... According to Stevens, he left the matter of telling the truth of his life to her. “Don’t be kind — I don’t want a tribute, I want a portrait,” he supposedly said. “Make me into an Avedon” … Stevens is most illuminating in her behind-the-scenes glimpses of the work … Stevens’s accounts of bygone media largesse seem less like dispatches from a different era than from a different planet entirely … The most intimate detail Stevens was conscripted to reveal was Avedon’s homosexuality. Stevens alone, of all his friends, knew of it … Avedon’s secretiveness might have scuttled a traditional biography, but it’s sidestepped with Stevens’s oral history approach. Everyone saw one side of him — but together the testimonies of his assistants, models and lovers add up to a mosaic of the man. The snapshots are affectionate and admiring, and the contradictions in them can give you whiplash."

    New York Times
  • "ExhilaratingAvedon is a whirlwind read, dropping names, exhibits, assignments, one-liners and wisecracks so fast I turned the 697 pages slightly breathless … Personal and affectionate Stevens’s memoir is intentionally subjective and personal. But it is not artless or slapdash. She frames it skilfully with Avedon’s first and last solo shows at the Metropolitan Museum in New York … This book is a fine memorial."

    Times Literary Supplement
  • "If you like tales of obsessive perfectionism and mercurial extravagance, then you'll never be bored with this lavishly illustrated verbal portrait of one of the 20th century’s photographic masters ... Intimate and dishy in its conversational tone, the book makes you feel as though you are nose to nose trading stories with a vivacious confidant, your most fabulous friend telling you unabashed and juicy truths ... Part oral history, part memoir, part biography, this roomy account fills in the renowned white space surrounding Avedon, a man who curated his reputation as carefully as he did his output, remaining relentlessly private even as he revealed the era’s most incandescent personalities in Harper’s Bazaar, Vogue, The New Yorker and more."

    Chicago Tribune
  • "Something Personal can be seen as the memorial that never was, in that many of Avedon’s friends and team members who would have spoken at the service have written about their reminiscences of working and socialising with him."

    Business of Fashion

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