From Publishers Weekly
Similar in approach to a graphic novel, this biography-in-collage tackles the life of Ziegfeld Follies star Doris Eaton. Each page offers a wild mix of illustrations, doodles, photos and memorabilia from Eaton's archives, accompanied by handwritten text outlining her fascinating life, which comes across like something out of the musical Gypsy. Born in 1904 to a theatre-crazed Virginia family, Eaton was cast in New York's famous Follies at age 14, appeared in numerous silent films, worked for years as a dance instructor and earned her college degree at age 88. New York Times contributor Redniss's surrealist scrapbook approach is striking and unique, captivating readers by twining simple, evocative text with a stunning array of images, splaying words at all angles across the page; though this slows reading, the forced pace gives readers more opportunity to appreciate the book's charms. A worthy experiment in the genre, the visual approach takes precedence over a considered analysis of Eaton's life and career, but interview material with the vivacious showgirl survivor grounds the story. Appropriately, it's an elaborate (and, in the case of the forthcoming limited edition, pricey) spectacle heavy on opulent ocular flash, lighter on substance, and perfect for fans of the Follies.
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“Striking and unique. . . captivating readers by twining simple, evocative text with a stunning array of images.” (Publishers Weekly (starred review))
“With Century Girl, Lauren Redniss creates an entirely new genre of biography.” (Nylon magazine)
“Lauren Redniss takes a graphically provocative approach in telling [Doris Eaton Travis’s] story.” (Daily News)
“My favorite new book this year. . . a visually dazzling melange. . . unlike anything I’ve ever seen before.” (Slate (best books of 2006 pick))
“Not only did Doris Eaton Travis break records for accomplishment and humanity, she also had great hair and shoes.” (Isaac Mizrahi)
“The opposite of a page-turner: it’s a page-stopper, a page-savorer, in short: an unmitigated delight.” (Lawrence Weschler, author of Mr. Wilson’s Cabinet of Wonder and Everything that Rises: A Book of Convergences)
“Doris Eaton is the darling of Broadway, a New York treasure.” (Nils Hanson, National Ziegfeld Club)
“I wish Lauren Redniss would write and illustrate my biography in the dreamy, luminous way she did Doris Eaton Travis’s.” (Maira Kalman, author and illustrator)