A Ship Without A Sail by Gary Marmorstein
The Life of Lorenz Hart

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Marmorstein brings to life the Manhattan of Hart’s youth.
-NY Times


An unforgettable portrait of an exuberant yet troubled artist who so enriched the American songbook

“Blue Moon, ” “Where or When, ” “The Lady Is a Tramp,” “My Funny Valentine,” “Isn’t It Romantic?,” “My Romance,” “There’s a Small Hotel,” “Falling in Love with Love,” “Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered”—lyricist Lorenz Hart, together with composer Richard Rodgers, wrote some of the most memorable songs ever created. More than half a century after their collaboration ended, Rodgers & Hart songs are indispensable to the repertoire of nightclub singers everywhere. A Ship Without a Sail is the story of the complicated man who was Lorenz Hart.

His lyrics spin with brilliance and sophistication, yet at their core is an unmistakable wistfulness. The sweetness of “My Romance” and “Isn’t It Romantic?” is unsurpassed in American song, but Hart’s lyrics could also be cynical, funny, ironic. He brought a unique wit and elegance to popular music.

Larry Hart and Richard Rodgers wrote approximately thirty Broadway musicals and dozens of songs for Hollywood films. At least four of their musicals—On Your Toes, Babes in Arms, The Boys from Syracuse, and Pal Joey— have become classics. But despite their prodigious collaboration, Rodgers and Hart were an odd couple. Rodgers was precise, punctual, heterosexual, handsome, and eager to be accepted by Society. Hart was barely five feet tall, alcoholic, homosexual, and more comfortable in a bar or restaurant than anywhere else. Terrified of solitude, he invariably threw the party and picked up the check. His lyrics are all the more remarkable considering that he never sustained a romantic relationship, living his entire life with his mother, who died only months before he died at age forty-eight.

Gary Marmorstein’s revelatory biography includes many of the lyrics that define Hart’s legacy—those clever, touching stanzas that still move us or make us laugh.

About Gary Marmorstein

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Gary Marmorstein is the author of Hollywood Rhapsody and The Label and has written about film, theater, and popular music for The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and Stagebill, among many other publications.
Published July 3, 2012 by Simon & Schuster. 545 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Humor & Entertainment, Arts & Photography. Non-fiction
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Critic reviews for A Ship Without A Sail
All: 2 | Positive: 2 | Negative: 0

NY Times

Reviewed by Brad Leithauser on Nov 30 2012

Marmorstein brings to life the Manhattan of Hart’s youth.

Read Full Review of A Ship Without A Sail: The Li... | See more reviews from NY Times

WSJ online

Reviewed by J D Mcclatchy on Jun 29 2012

Gary Marmorstein's new book easily supplants Frederick Nolan's ardent but choppy 1994 biography.

Read Full Review of A Ship Without A Sail: The Li... | See more reviews from WSJ online

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