"Whatever the evidence against her, whatever the true nature or severity of her debility—and scholars continue to heatedly debate this issue—Mary Lincoln was not given a fair opportunity to oppose her own legal kidnapping."

Mrs. Lincoln, A Life, by Catherine Clinton.

Y’all, this bio of Mary Lincoln is fascinating.  Clinton does a wonderful job of depicting Mrs. Lincoln as a real, flawed person, although not quite as flawed as some past historians would have us believe. 

After reading this, I now want to learn more about Elizabeth Keckley, the former slave who was Mary Lincoln’s dressmaker and close friend for some years.

"Biographies of our favorite writers are both irresistible and almost invariably unsatisfying, because what we ultimately desire from them is not the series of events that compose the writer’s life, but something far more elusive: the pure, undiluted sensibility that exists between the life and the work and conjoins them. In the best cases, the biographer can flesh out the material of a life and leave something extra in abeyance on the page, the way novelists do, working the minutiae of human behavior and the accrual of events and experiences into a fully realized character."

Conversations With Pauline Kael | Full Stop

A Different Gandhi by Anita Desai | The New York Review of Books

Even in his lifetime the legend of Mahatma Gandhi had grown to such proportions that the man himself can be said to have disappeared as if into a dust storm. Joseph Lelyveld’s new biography sets out to find him. His subtitle alerts us that this is not a conventional biography in that he does not repeat the well-documented story of Gandhi’s struggle for India but rather his struggle with India, the country that exasperated, infuriated, and dismayed him, notwithstanding his love for it.

Shel Silverstein’s Unlikely Rise to Kid Lit Superstardom

mentalflossr:

This article originally appeared in mental_floss magazine.

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by Mark Peters

Shel Silverstein—the late cartoonist, singer, songwriter, playwright, and mega-selling author of such classics as The Giving Tree and Where the Sidewalk Ends—didn’t like children’s literature. Spoon-feeding kids sugar-sweet stories just wasn’t his style. Fortunately for generations of young readers, someone convinced him to do something about it—namely, break the mold himself. Using edgy humor, clever rhymes, and tripped-out drawings, Silverstein achieved the impossible. He bridged the worlds of adult and children’s art, while becoming wildly popular in the process.

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The part that stood out to me:

One reason his books are so easy to spot on a bookshelf is that he made unyielding demands about their formats. Most have never been printed in paperback (per his instruction), and he scrupulously selected every typeface and paper grade. 

Fascinating!

"In the meantime, she had won her Oscar, notionally for “The Country Girl,” maybe the only movie in which she got to don the spectacles that she wore in regular life. (That misty, faraway look that she gave to Cary Grant? She really was faraway, from her myopic perspective, and it really was a mist.)"

The legacy of Grace Kelly : The New Yorker. Grace Kelly isn’t one of my favorite actresses, but I have to say that knowing she wore glasses IRL makes me like her a little more.