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Forty-one False Starts: Essays on Artists and Writers

Forty-one False Starts: Essays on Artists and Writers - Janet Malcolm, Ian Frazier I received a promotional copy of this book through the First Reads program.

Rating: Somewhere in the 3 to 3 1/2 range.

I really like the title piece. "Capitalist Pastorale" is a waste of time. The others fall somewhere in between, with "Edward Weston's Nudes" being one of the better pieces and the Bloomsbury piece falling flat.

There are whiffs of elitism and NYC-centrism scattered throughout the book. She likes to quote other writers, and does so a bit too much for my taste. Sometimes it seems as though she's quoting merely for the opportunity to disagree.

She comes across as an intelligent woman who knows her subjects. I certainly learned from her writings. So it's possible that her other books are better than this one.

A couple minor quibbles: she mentions an artist who takes other artists' work and signs her name to it, then passes it off as her own. I'm a bit surprised this is even legal. I'm disappointed that this "artist" is being taken seriously, regardless of legality. Also, a significant portion of the book is about visual art: paintings, photographs, etc. But there aren't any photos of the art. I don't know if this is due to legal restrictions or not wanting to make the book longer or whatever. But it might have been nice to see some of the pieces.