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Edie: An American Biography by Jean Stein

Edie: An American Biography (original 1982; edition 1982)

by Jean Stein (Author), George Plimpton (Editor)

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604716,187 (3.91)6
Title:Edie: An American Biography
Authors:Jean Stein (Author)
Other authors:George Plimpton (Editor)
Info:Knopf (1982), Hardcover
Collections:Put in port {Finished reading}, Biography: Group II {Known Scallywags}, Retired (Read but unowned}
Tags:biography (BIO), entertainment biography (BIO-ENT)

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Edie: An American Biography by Jean Babette Stein (1982)


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Showing 1-5 of 7 (next | show all)
A good read and somewhat under-appreciated due to its subject matter of Pop and Warhol. ( )
  JayLivernois | Feb 18, 2013 |

After reading Patti Smith’s Just Kids, I was inspired to pick up Stein’s biography of Edie Sedgwick. I tend to let one reading choice inspire another. For example, once I read the biography of the Mitford sisters, I immediately picked up Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh, whose relationship with the sisters had been discussed. Smith, in her memoir, mentioned her teenage interest in Sedgwick, which prompted me to remember I had her biography sitting on the bookshelf unread. (n.b. I also tend to buy books at a pace that exceeds my ability to read them, so quite a bit of my personal library remains unread…and I imagine, the way I buy books, this will continue to be the case).

Edie Sedgwick’s story is, at the same time, glamorous and tragic. Born into a family as eccentric as it is dysfunctional, Edie was sent to several psychiatric institutions throughout her teen years before defecting from college to New York, where she met Andy Warhol and was deemed a “super star.”

Stein’s decision for the biography to be composed of incredibly well-edited interviews was genius, in my opinion. Edie herself was a bit of an enigma; even people who were the closest to her didn’t seem to ever know her completely, so to it seemed fitting to piece the story of her life together via the people who knew all the different parts of her.

Edie had an amazing sense of personal style. She was absolutely a trendsetter and an individual, and who knows what sort of impact she could have had on the fashion and art worlds if drugs hadn’t been the issue that they were. Through Stein’s interviews and Plimpton’s expert editing, Edie is a riveting read that is fascinating on multiple levels: as the story of a family, as the story of a troubled girl, as a unique glimpse into the art world, and as the story of an era.

Rubric rating: 9. ( )
  jaclyn_michelle | Jan 22, 2013 |
This book helped me hate Andy Warhol just a little less, because it is clear he was not responsible for the denigration and demise of Edie Sedgwick. Edie was going to end up dead of an overdose or a suicide attempt one way or the other, and while Andy was a parasite, the blame for his death cannot be laid at his doorstep.

Mostly this book was interesting in a voyeuristic manner. I felt a similar sense of looking into the lives of a certain sort of elite when reading about John Cheever's life. This book stands as a direct refutation to the old canard that the rich are not like us - they are better. Fuzzy Sedgwick, Edie's father, was a living emblem of how money can lead one to believe one is almost a God. His arrogance destroyed his children and his weak wife stood by and let it happen. Two sons committed suicide, Edie died of a drug overdose, the eldest daughter cut off ties with most of her family and it was all a direct result of having a lecherous, nasty, arrogant, self-absorbed narcissist for a father.

In a way, this book, told via the remembrances of those who knew Edie and her family, is a third party examination of how women with borderline personality are created. Because from the perspective of armchair psychology, Edie was definitely a borderline.

There were a couple of moments wherein I literally cringed when reading of Edie's behavior. After she had left The Factory, Edie fell in with a group of bikers. She had no sense of the danger she was courting, as she was genuinely convinced of her charm. According to a man called Preacher Ewing, Edie would flirt and tease the bikers at bars and, had it not been for a couple of male friends who prevented it, she was opening herself up to a gang rape. She was so accustomed to being the most beautiful and sought-after girl in the room, and having dealt with the dregs that were often attracted to Andy Warhol, she had an over-inflated sense of her desirability and the civility her money and quasi-fame bought her.

This was a terribly sad book in so many ways. But, like most tales of how the mighty have fallen, it was a fast, gripping read. ( )
  oddbooks | Jan 2, 2013 |
It would have been better if it had shown more sympathy with the subject, and less of an obsession to show off as many interview documents with random people as humanly possible.

But, as far as this sort of thing goes, it could have been worse.

(8/10) ( )
  Tullius22 | Dec 22, 2012 |
This is a very well-written biography. Read it even if you think Edie was completely vapid and uninteresting. ( )
1 vote DameMuriel | Jan 26, 2008 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Jean Babette Steinprimary authorall editionscalculated
Plimpton, GeorgeEditorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
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JOHN P MARQUAND,  JR.  Have you ever seen the old graveyard up there in Strockbridge? In one corner is the family's burial place; it's called the Sedgwick Pie.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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A brilliant and unique biography of a 60s icon.

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