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Parisian Lives

Best Seller
Parisian Lives by Deirdre Bair
Hardcover
Nov 12, 2019 | ISBN 9780385542456
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  • Hardcover $29.95

    Nov 12, 2019 | ISBN 9780385542456

  • Ebook $14.99

    Nov 12, 2019 | ISBN 9780385542463

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Praise

Parisian Lives promises insights into the art of biography, perhaps a little gossip, perhaps a more intimate look of Beckett and Beauvoir. Instead it is something more unusual: an itemized receipt of the costs of female ambition . . . This book clamors for love, sympathy, recognition; it rejects the concealments necessary to preserve certain forms of dignity, certain forms of injustice.”
—Parul Sehgal, The New York Times

“Vivid and absorbing portraits of Beckett and Beauvoir, and a searing account of Bair’s evolving feminist consciousness as a novice biographer trying to launch a career, raise kids and run a household . . . Bair’s indefatigable energy and can-do attitude are likely to inspire a new generation of writers and biographers.”
—Ann Levin, AP

“Even readers uninterested in going deep into the weeds will find the broader landscape breathtaking . . . A unique glimpse into a bygone literary era. Whether you adore the works of Beckett and Beauvoir or cordially detest them, this memoir will deepen your appreciation of the impassioned feelings they provoked.”
Michael Magras, Minneapolis Star Tribune

“Full of encounters, reflections, tribulations, and revelations—an enthralling account of a biographer’s lot, by one of the art’s most distinguished practitioners.”
—Sarah Bakewell, author of How to Live and At the Existentialist Cafe

“This memoir is one of a kind. The backstory of two of the great biographies of our time, it is absorbing from start to finish. I read it in two sittings: that’s how eager I was to know what came next.”
—Vivian Gornick, author of The Odd Woman and the City
 
Parisian Lives is a signal achievement. Deirdre Bair’s engrossing account of nearly two decades of adventures in Paris brings the city to vivid life. And her personal story, told here in gripping fashion, becomes as compelling as those of her illustrious biographical subjects.”
—Mary V. Dearborn, author of Ernest Hemingway

Parisian Lives gives readers insight into a woman and writer undertaking the alternately arduous and thrilling, hilarious and inspiring task of writing the biographies of Samuel Beckett and Simone de Beauvoir. As pure memoir it is transporting, and as tribute to the art of biography it is a crucial guide for those aspiring to take a journey into someone else’s life. Bair shows how it should be done, which is to say how she did it.”
—Mary Gabriel, author of Ninth Street Women

“A totally compelling account by a master biographer of the joys and frustrations of writing another’s life. While some of her revelations are explosive, Bair manages to present her legendary subjects, Samuel Beckett and Simone de Beauvoir, as poignantly human. This groundbreaking work returns us nostalgically to a literary Paris that teems with intrigue and humor.” 
—Rosemary Sullivan, author of Stalin’s Daughter
 
“By turns scholarly and salacious, Bair has loosened decades of polite tongue-biting to write the backstory in what she calls a ‘bio-memoir’ of two influential writers . . . No matter her subject, Bair, a generous and graceful writer, has followed her dictum in writing biographies: ‘those of us who wrote literary biographies should ensure that our readers ended our books by wanting to turn immediately to our subjects’ writing.’ Bair’s exhaustively detailed and lively memoir also serves as a solid study in the art of biography.”
Publishers Weekly, starred review

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