All We Know by Lisa Cohen
Three Lives

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...Ms. Cohen allows us to look deeper into our definitions of failure, identity and modernity, while also reappraising the stature of artfulness as opposed to art.
-WSJ online

Synopsis

Esther Murphy was a brilliant New York intellectual who dazzled friends and strangers with an unstoppable flow of conversation. But she never finished the books she was contracted to write—a painful failure and yet a kind of achievement.

The quintessential fan, Mercedes de Acosta had intimate friendships with the legendary actresses and dancers of the twentieth century. Her ephemeral legacy lies in the thousands of objects she collected to preserve the memory of those performers and to honor the feelings they inspired.

An icon of haute couture and a fashion editor of British Vogue, Madge Garland held bracing views on dress that drew on her feminism, her ideas about modernity, and her love of women. Existing both vividly and invisibly at the center of cultural life, she—like Murphy and de Acosta—is now almost completely forgotten.

In All We Know, Lisa Cohen describes these women's glamorous choices, complicated failures, and controversial personal lives with lyricism and empathy. At once a series of intimate portraits and a startling investigation into style, celebrity, sexuality, and the genre of biography itself, All We Know explores a hidden history of modernism and pays tribute to three compelling lives.
All We Know is one of Publishers Weekly's Top 10 Best Books of 2012

 

About Lisa Cohen

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Lisa Cohen’s writing has appeared in Fashion Theory, Bookforum, GLQ, Ploughshares, and other journals and anthologies. She teaches at Wesleyan University.
 
Published July 17, 2012 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. 449 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, Gay & Lesbian. Non-fiction
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Critic reviews for All We Know
All: 2 | Positive: 2 | Negative: 0

NY Times

Good
Reviewed by M. G. Lord on Oct 05 2012

...Cohen’s own idiosyncratic hybrid doesn’t disappoint. She builds a rich picture of a lost world — and three women who dared to inhabit it on their own terms.

Read Full Review of All We Know: Three Lives | See more reviews from NY Times

WSJ online

Above average
Reviewed by Laura Jacobs on Jul 27 2012

...Ms. Cohen allows us to look deeper into our definitions of failure, identity and modernity, while also reappraising the stature of artfulness as opposed to art.

Read Full Review of All We Know: Three Lives | See more reviews from WSJ online

Reader Rating for All We Know
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