a-life-in-the-dark-pauline-kael

Pauline Kael wrote film criticism for The New Yorker from 1968 to 1991. During that time, she became the most widely read, intensely debated, provocative and powerful movie critic in America. In this richly detailed book, Brian Kellow examines her hardscrabble early years living in the Bay Area, her first taste of success managing the Berkeley Cinema Guild, the nation’s first twin art house, and her emergence as a critic to be reckoned with. Kellow also examines the great period of filmmaking that paralleled Kael’s years at The New Yorker. The book features a large supporting cast of filmmakers with whom Kael interacted – including Robert Altman, Warren Beatty, Paul Schrader, Paul Mazursky and James Toback.

“Pauline is very fortunate in her biographer. Kellow, an erudite movie lover, features editor at Opera News and author of a book about another formidable woman, Ethel Merman, writes beautifully and dextrously interweaves the story of a career long-thwarted with a sensitive reading of his subject’s youthful enthusiasm and intellectual growth.… Kellow admirably brings Pauline’s wit, insight and passion to life on the page and has made at least one critic nostalgic for the days when heavyweight critical battles raged and at least one of us lived a life worthy of a biography.”
 — Todd McCarthy, The Hollywood Reporter

“In his fluent, immensely readable study, Kellow fairly represents Kael’s tendency to hyperbole (writing of Barbra Streisand or Last Tango in Paris) as well as hurtful ad hominem (George Cukor’s Rich and Famous; Shoah).”
 — Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)

“For a biography to do justice to a complex personality and a great mind such as Kael’s, extensive research must be matched by acute perception. That requirement is fully, even joyously, met here… a great revelatory portrait that will stand as the definitive one.”
 — Booklist (Starred Review)

“Kellow performs biographical magic … Like Kael’s own books, this bio is a page-turner.”
 — Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review)

“A must-read for any devotee of film; compellingly written and recommended for all libraries.”
 — Library Journal (Starred Review)

“[A] smart and incisive biography .… [Moviegoers] are in for a colossal eye-opening. [Kael’s] love for film has no present-day counterpart .… [An] entertaining and insightful biography, as much a study of her criticism as a narrative of her life.… Mr. Kellow’s clear, independent view of his subject is his book’s most valuable surprise.”
 — Janet Maslin, The New York Times

“To appreciate Kael’s trailblazing, you have to see it in its broader context. Luckily, that backdrop is filled in with surefooted sophistication by Brian Kellow in Pauline Kael: A Life in the Dark, a fair-minded and deeply reported biography.”
 — Frank Rich, The New York Times Book Review

“[Pauline] Kael emerges from [Kellow’s] biography as a great cinematic character, a kind of Citizen Kane, with a life lived and shaped by the dark.”
 — Elaine Showalter, The Times Literary Supplement

“Illuminating.” — Nathan Heller, The New Yorker

“[A] terrific new biography… [Kael’s early life] was a revelation to me, thanks to Kellow’s ace research.”
 — Camille Paglia, Salon.com

“Mr. Kellow’s even-handed treatment gives us [Kael] in all her maddening overconfidence.”
 — Scott Eyman, The Wall Street Journal

“I fell on Kellow’s book like a teenage girl on a lost volume of the Twilight saga and found it quite as riveting as teens find anything to do with Bella.”
 — Mary Pols, The San Francisco Chronicle

“Compelling … thrillingly written and exhaustively researched.… Genius.”
 — The Playlist

“Exhaustively researched, beautifully written … Pauline was a galvanizing presence, and Kellow has brought her back with overwhelming intensity.”
 — Howard Kissel, The Huffington Post

“Kellow has reconstructed Kael’s ‘life in the dark’ … The result is a joy to read.… a fascinating book.”
 — Los Angeles Magazine (Critic’s Picks, November 2011 issue)

“[Pauline Kael] got into my bloodstream more than any other critic. So I have been waiting most of my life for a smart, insightful biography like [Pauline Kael: A Life in the Dark] to take me beyond and beneath the hypnotic thrill of her prose.”
 — Ben Brantley, The New York Times (Critic’s Pick)

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