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

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