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Best Biographies of 2010 – part two

Based on the opinions of overbooked.org, The Globe and Mail, Quill and Quire and The Reader, these are amongst the best biographies published in 2010. (Please see yesterdays’ post for the first half of this list.)

Lives Like Loaded Guns: Emily Dickinson and her family’s feuds
by Lyndall Gordon

“Though in her lifetime only ten of Emily Dickinson’s poems were published, her death revealed 1,789 poems, many of them in hand-sewn booklets, secreted in a locked chest. She is now regarded as one of the greatest poets of all time, but she has come down to us as a woman disappointed in love, an odd and pathetic woman who dressed in white and shut herself away. Lyndall Gordon sees instead her volcanic character – ‘a soul at White Heat’ – a mystic and lover whose family harboured a hothouse drama of sex, scandal and devastating betrayal. Emily Dickinson was a woman beyond her time who found love, spiritual quickening and immortality all on her own terms: she wrote ‘My Life had Stood – a Loaded Gun’. Here is an explosive genius.” – publisher

Composed: a memoir
by Rosanne Cash

Now, in her memoir, Cash writes compellingly about her upbringing in Southern California as the child of country legend Johnny Cash, and of her relationships with her mother and her famous stepmother, June Carter Cash. In her account of her development as an artist she shares memories of a hilarious stint as a twenty-year-old working for Columbia Records in London, recording her own first album on a German label, working her way to success, her marriage to Rodney Crowell, a union that made them Nashville’s premier couple, her relationship with the country music establishment, taking a new direction in her music and leaving Nashville to move to New York. As well as motherhood, dealing with the deaths of her parents, in part through music, the process of songwriting, and the fulfillment she has found with her current husband and musical collaborator, John Leventhal“- publisher

Must You Go: my life with Harold Pinter
by Antonia Fraser

A moving testament to modern literature’s most celebrated marriage: that of the greatest playwright of our age, Harold Pinter, and the beautiful and famous prize-winning biographer, Antonia Fraser. In this exquisite memoir, Antonia Fraser recounts the life she shared with the internationally renowned dramatist. In essence, it is a love story and a marvelously insightful account of their years together. Must You Go? is based on Fraser’s recollections and on the diaries she has kept since October 1968. She shares Pinter’s own revelations about his past, as well as observations by his friends.” – publisher

Hitch-22: a memoir
by Christopher Hitchens

Most who have observed Christopher Hitchens over the years would agree that he possesses a ferocious intellect and is unafraid to tackle the most contentious subjects. Now 60, English-born and American by adoption; all atheist and partly Jewish; bohemian (even listing “drinking” along with “disputation” as “hobbies” in Who’s Who), he has held to a consistent thread of principle whether opposing war in Vietnam or supporting intervention in Iraq. As a foreign correspondent in some of the world’s nastiest places, a lecturer and teacher and an esteemed literary critic, Hitchens manifests a style that is at once ironic, witty, and tough-minded. A legendary bon vivant with an unquenchable thirst for literature, he has sometimes ridiculed those who claim that the personal is political, though he has often seemed to illustrate that very idea. Readers will find that his own many opposites attract, as do his many sketches of friendship and ex-friendship, from Martin Amis to Noam Chomsky. Condemned to be able to see both sides of any argument, Christopher Hitchens has contradictions that contain their own multitudes.” – publisher

Changing My Mind
by Margaret Trudeau

Under intense international scrutiny, Margaret Trudeau has survived remarkable highs and devastating lows. Since regaining control of her life, she has brought her formidable passion to helping others, be they Canadians suffering from mental illness or families living without access to water half a world away. A recipient of the Society of Biological Psychiatry Humanitarian Award, she now offers her journey of recovery, acceptance and hope, and generously shares with us many previously unreleased photos, in one of the most important memoirs to come out of this country”- publisher

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