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The Grand Surprise: The Journals of Leo…

The Grand Surprise: The Journals of Leo Lerman

by Leo Lerman

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Could not finish and resold on Amazon.Thought it would be like the Warhol diaries ( )
  Suzanne_Mitchell | Dec 29, 2013 |
"The Grand Surprise" consists of selected journal entries and letters by Leo Lerman, writer, editor and manager in the Conde Nast stable of magazines ("Vogue", "Vanity Fair") for nearly 50 years. He was also an avid arts enthusiast and culture-vulture, famed for his social connections and his charmingly diverse parties. Lerman became an important participant in the New York social scene from the 1950s to the 1980s. I like how the book includes several sample invitation lists from his famed soirees. For instance, a typical gathering from the late 1940s brought together Carol Channing, W.H. Auden, Truman Capote, George Balanchine, Walker Evans, Margot Fonteyn and Jeanette MacDonald.

There's a lot of fun gossip in the journals. Lerman cultivated celebrity friendships with the likes of Jackie Kennedy Onassis, Maria Callas, Marlene Dietrich and Truman Capote. He was acquainted with - and wrote about - cultural figures as diverse as Lincoln Kirstein, Elizabeth Bowen, Isak Dinesen, and Arturo Toscanini. Lerman always wanted to write a novel, but never did. In effect, the journals, which have been lovingly edited and annotated by Stephen Pascal, are his legacy.

There are dry patches, too; Lerman complains a lot about his health; and it becomes frustrating to the reader that he never writes that great novel which he plans for over 50 years. But there are beautiful "arias" about the passage of time and the fraility of human happiness. I'm sure that this is one of the journals which will be widely quoted in years to come.

"Each of us is an archeologist. From the day we are born, we are engaged in Personal Archaeology, and we are born again and again, many times in a lifetime. We are constantly excavating the mansions of our dreams, the imagined palaces of our minds, the monuments dedicated to forever passions, to eternal loves as ephemeral as the towering cities in which they so impermanently stood - all now staunchly substantial, each solid stone, each love-laved face, in the moonlight of memory. . . " ( )
  yooperprof | May 8, 2009 |
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