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American Rose: A Nation Laid Bare: The Life…
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American Rose: A Nation Laid Bare: The Life and Times of Gypsy Rose Lee (original 2010; edition 2012)

by Karen Abbott (Author)

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3963138,621 (3.47)21
Member:mfigroid
Title:American Rose: A Nation Laid Bare: The Life and Times of Gypsy Rose Lee
Authors:Karen Abbott (Author)
Info:Random House Trade Paperbacks (2012), 448 pages
Collections:Your library
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Tags:Read in 2017, Bio / Autobio / Memoir

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American Rose: A Nation Laid Bare: The Life and Times of Gypsy Rose Lee by Karen Abbott (2010)

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Showing 1-5 of 31 (next | show all)
Interesting book about the famouse Gypsy Rose Lee... only thing I found confusing was the constant switching of times with every chapter.... 1 chapter was chronological, next chapter was 30 years later, then again chronological....

I am sure there were other readers who were confused by this. ( )
  yukon92 | Aug 13, 2018 |
Fun biography of the famous burlesque performer of the 1930s, Gypsy Rose Lee. I really enjoy this type of popular history/biography. Interesting commentary on sex in the public sphere, even though maybe a little romanticized. ( )
  gossamerchild88 | Mar 30, 2018 |
"Gypsy" the classic Musical Play about the life of Gypsy Rose Lee - is probably the ultimate Broadway Musical people talk about when it comes to Broadway Musicals.

Nominally based on Gypsy's autobiography Gypsy it tells the story of two girls and their demon stage mother in the waning years of vaudeville in America. Show people love stories about show people and this one is almost a vaudeville show itself.

But Gypsy in her book didn't always tell the truth. And June Havoc her actress sister didn't like the parts of the play that reflected badly on her or on their mother. After lengthy re-writes and lengthy lawsuits the play went on with the subtitle "A Musical Fable".

So. If you really want to know what happened in those days to Mama Rose and to Gypsy and to June, you need to dig deeper.

In American Rose Karen Abbott got June to talk - and got a lot of people who knew the family to talk and did her homework on faded theatrical newspapers and posters and playbills. The real story is a lot more interesting.

This is the dysfunctional family to end all dysfunctional familes. But there is love here too.

And the story about vaudeville when it was the biggest thing in America and how it came to an end. And how Gypsy rode the train right out of vaudeville into "burlesque" and into American folklore.

Helps to have Gypsy's book open next to it to compare. But even so an amazing biography. ( )
  magicians_nephew | Feb 15, 2018 |
Interesting but I wasn't comfortable with the time shifts in the narrative. Too much bouncing around. ( )
  rlsalvati | Jul 5, 2016 |
For those interested in “naughty” books, what could be better than a book about a striptease artist? Now that we have gone past the “prurient interest” stuff, let’s look at what else this book is about.

There are gangsters. Rothstein, Capone, Lucky Luciano, all seem to have had some connection to Gypsy Rose Lee. Or maybe they were just in the audience.

There is the history of the Minsky brothers. They are not gangsters, but they are thorns in the side of government as they explore the limits of what they can explore and get past the government censors. Folks who love to irritate the government will like these parts.

There are segments of fascinating history like that of the World’s Fair during WWII. The exhibits of many nations, like the nations themselves, were downsized. The invention of nylon stockings, displayed at the Fair would have later importance at the end of the war.

For psychology students, the Havoc family was a definition of dysfunctional, from “Big Lady”, through momma Rose, the relationship between Louise and June, the complete irrelevance of all men through several generations, and possible cannibalism on the part of earlier female ancestors.

The pandemic of influenza circa 1918 is described. Just when we thought we were the most afflicted generation with AIDS, Ebola, and Zika, it is informative to know what our grandparents (literally) faced, without the filter of the internet and CNN.

Here we have the life and death of Gypsy Rose Lee. Also the life and death of Vaudeville, Burlesque, and the celebrities who inhabited the entertainment world. Tricks are revealed. How did the man turn molten lava into coins? Some reputations may be tarnished. Did Joan Blondell really say that about her husband just after his death? She probably did, as this is a well- researched book with an extensive bibliography.

This can be a disturbing read in some parts, but for me it was mostly fun. ( )
  ajarn7086 | Feb 27, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 31 (next | show all)
But this book is confusing in much more important ways. It keeps on feinting and switching eras, quite jarringly. It often switches focus, dealing better with the “times” of Gypsy Rose Lee (as mentioned in its subtitle) than with the actual life. It relies on Gypsy’s own 1957 memoir, right down to paraphrasing the way she describes stripping off costumes that were fastened with straight pins, which made a plinking sound each time a pin landed in a nearby tuba. How Gypsy managed these pins without drawing blood is one of too many things left to the imagination.
 
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Epigraph
Genius is not a gift, but the way a person invents in desperate circumstances. -Jean-Paul Sartre

May your bare ass always me shining. -Eleanor Roosevelt to Gypsy Rose Lee, 1959
Dedication
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In late spring, across a stretch of former wasteland in Flushing Meadows, Queens, a quarter-million people pay 50 cents each to forget and to dream.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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The author of the acclaimed "New York Times" bestseller "Sin in the Second City" returns with the gripping and expansive story of America's coming-of-age--told through the extraordinary life of Gypsy Rose Lee and the world she survived and conquered.

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Karen Abbott is a LibraryThing Author, an author who lists their personal library on LibraryThing.

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