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Christian

Pauline Kael's Library

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What does it say about me that I occasionally daydream about people poring through my library after I'm gone? The thought usually strikes when I find an embarrassingly banal comment left in the margins during an earlier trip through the book.

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Darren, shouldn't you be in a darkened theater in Toronto right about now?

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Since this is the only thread I can find here about Kael around these parts, I'm posting this here.

I discovered a $1 copy of Afterglow: A Last Conversation With Pauline Kael on the book cart at the library a couple of weeks ago at the library. For those of you not familiar with it, it's a record of a long conversation she had a couple of years before her death with Francis Davis (jazz critic as well as Mr. Terry Gross). A very enjoyable (and quick) read, even those not seriously interested in film would enjoy it.

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New biography on Kael coming out in October.

"A decade after her death, Pauline Kael remains the most important figure in film criticism today, in part due to her own inimitable style and power within the film community and in part due to the enormous influence she has exerted over an entire subsequent generation of film critics. During her tenure at the New Yorker from 1967 to 1991 she was a tastemaker, a career maker, and a career breaker. Her brash, vernacular writing style often made for an odd fit at the stately New Yorker.

Brian Kellow gives us a richly detailed look at one of the most astonishing bursts of creativity in film history and a rounded portrait of this remarkable (and often relentlessly driven) woman. Pauline Kael is a book that will be welcomed by the same audience that made Mark Harris's Pictures at a Revolution and Peter Biskind's Easy Riders, Raging Bulls bestsellers, and by anyone who is curious about the power of criticism in the arts."

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New biography on Kael coming out in October.

I'm about halfway through this biography, and it's exactly the book I've been looking for. For whatever reason, I've had a hard time over the years pinning down what, exactly, Kael was about as a critic. I've tried some of her collections, which you think would be sufficient to get a fix on the woman's writing. But it never took.

Kellow's book is filling in Kael's background and development as a writer and stylist. The information has, I'm sure, always been out there to be found, but I needed it ordered and packaged in the way Kellow's biography does.

Here's hoping the second half is as good as the first.

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Kellow's biography was just what the doctor ordered. I feel like I've filled a huge hole in my knowledge of contemporary film criticism, and now have plenty of context to dive into For the Love of Movies.

Edited by Christian

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