Saul Steinberg: A Biography

. November 2012. 752p. 978-0-38552-448-3. 40.
National Book Award-winning author (Anais Nin), (Samuel Beckett) meticulously connects puzzle pieces of a complex, often paradoxical life of this famous graphic artist. Bair’s hefty work carefully documents the luminary best known for his New Yorker cartoons during post-war America, and possibly less notorious for his scandalous affairs, while married to fine artist Hedda Sterne whom Bair interviewed, among others for the book. Bair portrays his foibles in a balanced light, noting his generous often, conflicted heart (e.g. life-long financing of family, friends) while addressing his philandering without bias. Hedda’s perspective is well integrated. Steinberg was both hard-working fine artist, intellect (“I am a writer who draws”) and a commercial success hustling his witty perspective even through personal depression. His cinematic life spanned native Romania, Italy, China as US OSS officer, onto North America to capture its diverse landscape, crisscrossing continents for inspiration. His and Hedda’s address book read like a Who’s Who: Miro, Caulder, Nabokov, Perelman...
VERDICT Recommended for Steinberg, as well as Bair, fans who will snatch up her substantial bio seeped in post war popular culture and arts. Readers will only wish there were more illustrations for comic relief. This celebrity life, told without sensationalism, will fascinate readers. Can a movie version be far behind?

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