Monday, March 7, 2005

"Norma Shearer" by Gavin Lambert

God, I wish I could write as well as Gavin Lambert. . . .  I just finished reading his biography of the actress Norma Shearer (1902-1983), and was impressed by his telling of her life story - from her humble beginnings in Canada, to her ascent to movie stardom, marriage to Irving Thalberg, worldwide fame, and then slow withdrawal from Hollywood. The last chapter, describing the actress' final years, was moving. Shearer's life was opaque, and Lambert (who is a novelist and screenwriter) manages to envision a kind-of story arc in the telling of this life. That effect, I think, gives us insight into the woman. And for that reason,Norma Shearer, by Gavin Lambert, is recommended.

[ Only while scribbling this mini-review did I come to realize that there was another Shearer biography. In it's review of Lambert's 1990 book, Library Journalsaid, "In comparison to Lawrence J. Quirk's Norma: The Story of Norma Shearer (St. Martin's, 1988), Lambert's book is more detached, although both authors interviewed Shearer. Quirk comes across as more of a fan and features more quotes from Shearer's coworkers. Lambert's book has more insight. Each book has information not included in the other; both are worthwhile." I will have to try and track down Quirk's book, provided I can find a cheap copy. ]

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