Aisha Harris of Slate reports on newly released book titles and the world of publishing in "The Book Reader."
For cinephiles, two new books about American movie icons sidestep the traditionally formal presentations of autobiographies and present their subjects through incredibly revealing conversations.
After young filmmaker Henry Jaglom convinced his idol, Orson Welles, to star in his feature debut "A Safe Place" in 1971, a years-long friendship was born. Jaglom became the semi-retired Welles' biggest champion, lining up film projects and business opportunities that unfortunately never panned out. Still, at least one great cultural nugget came from their relationship: "My Lunches With Orson," a book featuring their taped conversations from the last few years of the legendary director's life.
For years, Jaglom and Welles met for weekly lunches, discussing everything from potential projects to Welles' opinions on other filmmakers, his own work and even his own prejudices. It's a rich portrait of Welles being unabashedly himself as he always was, and as edited by Peter Biskind, there are fresh additions to his well-known insights that even the most avid Welles fans will be excited to discover.
"Ava Gardner: The Secret Conversations" is an equally intimate look at the screen goddess known for such films as "Mogambo," "Show Boat" and "The Night of the Iguana." After suffering a stroke, Gardner commissioned journalist Peter Evans to write her memoirs, but after months of conversations about her life, the actress pulled the plug on the book, shortly before dying in 1990. "The Secret Conversations" is both a memoir and a chronicle of the difficulties of writing a memoir, as Evans recalls his struggles to get Gardner to speak candidly about the juiciest details of her life, including her relationships with famous men, her childhood and her alcoholism. It's a silver screen legend in rare form: in her own, uninhibited words.