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Biography Season


By Kathy Pillatzki
Assistant Director
Henry County Library System

  Biography season is here again! I know it’s odd to think of a literary genre as a seasonal thing, but fall – just in time for holiday gift-giving – is the peak time for publishers to roll out celebrity bios. This year the trend includes musicians, athletes, kings and more. Here’s what’s new on the shelves at Henry County public libraries:

 Starting at Zero: Jimi Hendrix’s Own Story by Jimi Hendrix. You’re probably thinking the same thing I was: how could Hendrix publish a memoir more than four decades after his early death? This is essentially a posthumous autobiography, assembled from letters, diaries, song lyrics, letters, interviews, and notes scribbled on napkins and cigarette cartons. Documentary filmmaker Peter Neal partnered with Hendrix’s friend and producer Alan Douglas to collect these scattered remnants and assemble them into a seamless picture of the artist’s life and work. Music lovers might also want to check out Duke: A Life of Duke Ellington by Terry Teachout, and Kansas City Lightning: The Rise and Times of Charlie Parker by Stanley Crouch.

 Johnny Carson by Henry Bushkin. Carson, at one time the king of late-night TV and the highest-paid entertainer in the world, was notorious for his womanizing and made his expensive divorces the butt of his own jokes. One of his closest and longest-lasting relationships was with, maybe not surprisingly, his attorney. Buskin began representing Carson right out of law school in 1970 and was by his side for the next 18 years. This is not exactly a tell-all, but critics have called it a psychologically astute chronicle of Carson’s professional success and his personal difficulties with his wives, children and famous friends.

 Becoming Mr. October by Reggie Jackson. Jackson, whose previous books include Reggie in 1975 and several titles on baseball, focuses his attention here on his first two years with the Yankees. What should have been a dream come true became two years of alienation and struggle that ultimately changed the game and our national culture. Sports fans will also enjoy Orr: My Story by hockey legend Bobby Orr.

 The King’s Grave: the Discovery of Richard III’s Lost Burial Place and the Clues it Holds, by Philippa Langley and Michael Jones. Forget everything you know about Richard III. Long maligned by everyone from Shakespeare to historians, the discovery of the king’s remains beneath a Leicester parking lot are helping modern historians unravel the mysteries of Richard III’s life and death. Those interested in the monarchy will also enjoy a new release from Peter Ackroyd, Tudors: the History of England from Henry VIII to Elizabeth I.

 Other new biographies you’ll find on the shelves:

 Nicholson: A Biography, the life and career of actor Jack Nicholson, by Marc Eliot; My Brief History, by physicist Stephen Hawking, author of A Brief History of Time; My Story, by Elizabeth Smart with Chris Stewart; Not for Turning: the Life of Margaret Thatcher, by Robin Harris; Vivien Leigh: An Intimate Portrait, by Kendra Bean; Ian Fleming, by Andrew Lycett; Jack London: An American Life, by Earle Labor and When they were Boys: the True Story of the Beatles’ Rise to the Top, by Larry Kane.



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