Tracings: A Book of Partial Portraits

Overview

In this fascinating book of portraits, Paul Horgan records his personal encounters with some of the outstanding artists of the century. For over fifty years - from the time when, as a teenage reporter in New Mexico, he met the doomed poet Vachel Lindsay, to the final illness of his friend Igor Stravinsky - Horgan not only crossed paths with the great and near-great, but his writer's eye enriched these moments with special grace and depth. Whether in comedy or the spirit of elegy, and with the lightest touch, ...
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Overview

In this fascinating book of portraits, Paul Horgan records his personal encounters with some of the outstanding artists of the century. For over fifty years - from the time when, as a teenage reporter in New Mexico, he met the doomed poet Vachel Lindsay, to the final illness of his friend Igor Stravinsky - Horgan not only crossed paths with the great and near-great, but his writer's eye enriched these moments with special grace and depth. Whether in comedy or the spirit of elegy, and with the lightest touch, Tracings brings together partial portraits of such legendary figures as opera stars Feodor Chaliapin, Mary Garden, and Marguerite D'Alvarez; actresses Minnie Maddern Fiske and Greta Garbo; painter Peter Hurd; writers Somerset Maugham, T. S. Eliot, Thornton Wilder, and Edmund Wilson. While researching his Pulitzer Prize biography, Lamy of Santa Fe, Horgan is granted an unheard-of privilege when the "100-year" rule governing the Vatican's archives is mysteriously waived for him. In Rome during wartime, he is also permitted to spend several hours in the Sistine Chapel entirely alone. This rich collection confirms the verdict of James K. Morris: "Paul Horgan is one of a handful of writers in America today who deserve the title of literary master."
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
With exuberance and a gift for conjuring a personality in a few deft strokes, Horgan records his encounters with famous and near-famous people in this delightful memoir. As an 18-year-old reporter in Albuquerque, he interviewed poet Vachel Lindsay, a future suicide victim who spoke incessantly of the ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead . A prolific novelist and historian, Horgan writes movingly of his long-time friend Igor Stravinsky who clung tenaciously to music during his final illness. Horgan joins Frieda Lawrence on a pilgrimage to the chapel tomb of her famous novelist husband near Taos, New Mexico. Meetings with a fractious, outspoken Edmund Wilson, a carefree T. S. Eliot, Greta Garbo, Aldous Huxley, Thornton Wilder, W. Somerset Maugham, painter Peter Hurd and opera stars Mary Garden and Feodor Chaliapin enliven this serendipitous portrait gallery. (Sept.)
Brad Hooper
This esteemed biographer, historian, and fiction writer offers a lesser work, but a lesser Horgan is still a notable book. This is a collection of essays that, for the most part, are sketches of famous people with whom he's had contact over his long career. The tone is far removed from name-dropping; Horgan self-effacingly shares some interesting moments with interesting people. From the day in 1935 when his second novel was published and--to distract himself from his nervousness about a party planned for him that evening--he went to an afternoon lecture-concert given by famous opera diva Mary Garden (who, in turn, later put in an appearance at "his" to-do), to the day in 1937 when he was allowed to observe Greta Garbo filming a movie (and saw quite a difference between her "appealing" screen presence and the "transporting power" of her live performance on a sound stage), to the day in 1945 when he was permitted by Vatican officials to have a private viewing of the wartime-restricted Sistine Chapel, Horgan demonstrates the fundamental characteristic of good writing: keen observation couched in an entrancing style.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780374278595
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
  • Publication date: 9/1/1993
  • Pages: 260
  • Product dimensions: 6.32 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.08 (d)

Table of Contents

1922: Vachel Lindsay and The Book of the Dead 3
1924: Chaliapin's Demon 17
1925: D'Alvarez, the Inca Princess 37
1930: The Time I Couldn't See Mrs. Fiske 47
1935: L'Apres-Midi de Mary Garden 53
1937: Garbo Observed 67
1937: Frieda Lawrence and the Tomb 81
1940: Luncheon for Somerset Maugham 103
1941: Peter Hurd: Artist at War 113
1942: Captain Wilder, T. N. 121
1945: Michelangelo's Morning 135
1956: To Meet Mr. T. S. Eliot 143
1959: The Vatican's Hundred-Year Proviso 157
1962: At Mrs. Longworth's 171
1963: Roma Barocca 189
1964: Wilson at Wesleyan 211
1971: Last Days of Stravinsky 237
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