Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Karen Abbott

Karen Abbott worked as a journalist on the staffs of Philadelphia magazine and Philadelphia Weekly, and has written for Salon.com and other publications. She is the author of Sin in the Second City.

From a Publishers Weekly Q &A with the author about her new book, American Rose: A Nation Laid Bare: The Life and Times of Gypsy Rose Lee:

Why do you think we need another biography of Gypsy Rose Lee?

I don't consider American Rose to be a biography so much as a microcosm of 20th-century America, told through Gypsy's tumultuous life—it’s "Horatio Alger meets Tim Burton." Here's an awkward kid who is born into nothing, receives very little formal education; spends her entire childhood on the road; is marginally cared for by an erratic, volatile mother; and grows up to become a novelist, a playwright, an actress, an activist, a member of New York's literati, and the most famous entertainer of her time. It's the American dream: the struggle, the setbacks, the ferocious drive and relentless self-invention, the ultimate triumph. Gypsy was a true original, and I hope a new generation can appreciate how unique and genuine she was, especially in this age of manufactured celebrity.Who else but Gypsy Rose Lee would receive a telegram from Eleanor Roosevelt--Eleanor Roosevelt!--that said "May your bare ass always be shining"?

The current movie, Burlesque, starring Cher and Christine Aguilera, has been applauded and derided; What would Gypsy Rose Lee think of the film—and what would she think of Cher?!

I think her reaction to the film would...[read on]
Read another interview with Karen Abbott and visit her website.

The Page 69 Test: Sin in the Second City.

The Page 99 Test: American Rose.

--Marshal Zeringue