Flash: Book summary and reviews of Flash by Christopher Bonanos

Flash

The Making of Weegee the Famous

by Christopher Bonanos

Flash by Christopher Bonanos X
Flash by Christopher Bonanos
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  • Published in USA  Jun 2018
    400 pages
    Genre: Biography/Memoir

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Book Summary

The first comprehensive biography of Weegee―photographer, "psychic," ultimate New Yorker―from Christopher Bonanos, author of Instant: The Story of Polaroid.

Arthur Fellig's ability to arrive at a crime scene just as the cops did was so uncanny that he renamed himself "Weegee," claiming that he functioned as a human Ouija board. Weegee documented better than any other photographer the crime, grit, and complex humanity of midcentury New York City. In Flash, we get a portrait not only of the man (both flawed and deeply talented, with generous appetites for publicity, women, and hot pastrami) but also of the fascinating time and place that he occupied.

From self-taught immigrant kid to newshound to art-world darling to latter-day caricature―moving from the dangerous streets of New York City to the celebrity culture of Los Angeles and then to Europe for a quixotic late phase of experimental photography and filmmaking―Weegee lived a life just as worthy of documentation as the scenes he captured. With Flash, we have an unprecedented and ultimately moving view of the man now regarded as an innovator and a pioneer, an artist as well as a newsman, whose photographs are among most powerful images of urban existence ever made.

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Book Awards

  • award image National Book Critics Circle Award, 2018

Reviews

Media Reviews

"The cut and strut of Bonanos' vivid prose captures the rough-and-tumble of mid-twentieth-century New York, while vital details gleaned from his extensive research enliven the portrait...he makes the man behind the camera fully human." - Booklist (starred review)

"Continually fascinating...deeply researched...compelling." - Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"[A] superb biography...Bonanos has meticulously researched every aspect of Weegee's life, filling this fascinating and lively account with amusing and touching anecdotes." - Library Journal, starred review

"[A]n energetic and informative biography...Bonanos's revelatory portrait of 'Weegee the Famous' will interest general readers, as well as those with a special interest in photojournalism." - Publishers Weekly

"Christopher Bonanos has finally supplied us with the biography Weegee deserves: sympathetic and comprehensive, a scrupulous account with just the right touch of irreverence. Bonanos...takes the photographer seriously without letting him and his self-mythologizing off the hook." - The New York Times

"[A]n outstanding biography...Bonanos is a peerless guide to Weegee's career, writing with obvious relish and great insight." - Newsday

"A snappily written life of Weegee the Famous...[a] fine biography" - The Wall Street Journal

"Weegee and his world don't encourage minimalism, and, fifty years after his death, he has at last acquired a biographer who can keep up with him." - The New Yorker

"Christopher Bonanos' superb biography reveals how the man born as Usher Fellig in 1899 reinvented himself as a chronicler of the seedier sides of nocturnal Manhattan in the 1930s." - The Seattle Times

"Vivacious ... long-overdue and endlessly entertaining." - The Santa Fe New Mexican

"Arthur 'Weegee' Fellig was perhaps the perfect vehicle for defining and delivering the fear and wonder of the modern city to our American spirit...We know the photographs, and now, with this biography from Christopher Bonanos, we can finally know something of the legendary, improbable, and much-caricatured man." - David Simon, creator of HBO's The Wire and The Deuce

"Flash is a crackling portrait of a man and his era--as immediate and as alive as Weegee's pictures themselves. Chris Bonanos vivifies not only his subject, but the long lost New York that he lived in, and that made him." - Daniel Okrent, New York Times bestselling author of Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition

"Christopher Bonanos's nuanced and sympathetic account succeeds in merging those three aspects--not only was a lot of the bluster for real, but even the pure baloney was hard-won and contextually grounded. His is a sweet and melancholy book and a doorway into a mostly misremembered past." - Luc Sante, author of Low Life: Lures and Snares of Old New York

"There's something about a car crash that makes people slow down as they pass by. The same is true of Weegee's photos...this fascinating biography by Christopher Bonanos brings to life the gritty old New York City where he lived and worked. He was a legendary character whose work inspired young hopefuls like myself." - Cindy Sherman, artist

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Author Information

Christopher Bonanos

Christopher Bonanos is city editor at New York magazine, where he covers arts and culture and urban affairs. He is the author of Instant: The Story of Polaroid. He lives in New York City with his wife and their son.

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