Customer Reviews


11 Reviews
5 star:
 (4)
4 star:
 (5)
3 star:    (0)
2 star:
 (1)
1 star:
 (1)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favorable review
The most helpful critical review


20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Truly a 5-star read
In this tightly written, adventurous memoir we begin with tragedy. Hughes gets into an automobile accident in his native Australia after a fishing trip and almost died. He did plead with family members, friends and his significant other to kill him while in hospital, but he made it through the horrendous surgeries and constant pain to write this wondrous memoir...
Published on January 12, 2008 by Armchair Interviews

versus
5 of 9 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Tedious.
I've been a Robert Hughes fan literally for decades. His American Visions is the definitive account of American art and when and how it went wrong. I wanted very much to like this memoir. But I couldn't stick it.

The first chapter, about the author's near-fatal auto accident, is riveting -- but where was the copy editor? Hughes refers to one person by the wrong...
Published on April 23, 2011 by Toni Mack


‹ Previous | 1 2 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Truly a 5-star read, January 12, 2008
By 
This review is from: Things I Didn't Know (Vintage) (Paperback)
In this tightly written, adventurous memoir we begin with tragedy. Hughes gets into an automobile accident in his native Australia after a fishing trip and almost died. He did plead with family members, friends and his significant other to kill him while in hospital, but he made it through the horrendous surgeries and constant pain to write this wondrous memoir.

His description of the Australian legal system, the differences between the States and Australia, as well as his own life as a long-time art critic, are well rendered and his language is beautifully choreographed.

Hughes' writing is visual and you know right away that for him life and art are inseparable in his mind. But this makes the book even more formidable. We follow Hughes through life, his affluent upraising in Sydney to the first moment when he realizes art is important-when as a student he sees a Miró-he told a professor, "That can't be art." His professor replied, "All right, Robert," he replied, "if that isn't art then why don't you tell me what art is?" This was an epiphany for Hughes who actually started thinking about what art really was.

Overall, this is a light-hearted memoir, except when Hughes discusses his first marriage, which, while it settles him, his wife wants sexual freedom, and this left him feeling like a "cuckold, going cuckoo." But once the divorce is finalized, his writing takes back its tinge of gold, pulling away from the gothic darkness of that experience. An absolutely fantastic read where you visit Australia, London, the States and Italy

Armchair Interviews says: A must read for anyone who loves exceptional writing.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars hugely enjoyable memoirs, January 17, 2010
By 
Ivor E. Zetler (Sydney Australia) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Things I Didn't Know (Vintage) (Paperback)
Robert Hughes is a great Australian (not being a sports hero he is sadly unrecognized) and one of the premier art critics alive. This book covers his memoirs from his birth in Sydney in 1938 to 1970 when he was appointed to the the position of art critic for Time Magazine.

The book begins in 1999 with Hughes's recollections of a near fatal car accident he sustained in Western Australia. It then reverts to his early years in Sydney plus his school and university experiences. Sydney was quite a parochial city in those days and Hughes gives a vivid description of life in those times. Then it is off "overseas" to Italy and London-the swinging sixties.

Hughes is a brilliant writer and these breezy memoirs are an easy and vastly entertaining read. Those not familiar with Sydney and the Australian scene might be slightly disadvantaged but not greatly so. Hughes is piercing in his observations, laconic, honest and sometimes very funny. This is truely a book that I "couldn't put down" and I heartily recommend it. Hopefully a further volume will be forthcoming in the near future.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Why aren't more people reading this?, September 20, 2008
By 
MJS (Addison, ME) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Things I Didn't Know (Vintage) (Paperback)
Only one customer review (albeit 5-star) tells me this is a greatly underappreciated book. The life story (so far) of the man who became art critic for TIME Magazine is as entertaining as it gets. No stuffy, artsy, blather to wade through here, though there are some worthy insights on art.

We follow Hughes from his priviledged but down-to-earth (and down-under) childhood, through WWII with Japanese subs in Sydney harbor, to the fluke of his becoming an art critic on the strength of his political cartoons for an underground paper ("You draw, you're the f-ing art critic," the editor proclaimed.), to meetings with artists way beyond eccentric, to "beat", "mod" and "hippy" life in London, to flood restorations in Florence, to the life of an expatriot in Italy, and back to Australia for car accidents, lawsuits and epiphanies.

A taste of his unromantic prose (re: his days in London): "The depths of tedium that can be plumbed by sitting around half stoned, listening to people chatter moonily about rewriting human-kind and erasing its aggressive instincts through love and dope, are scarcely imaginable to those who have not suffered them."

On a personal note, his unflattering views on colorfield painters were amusing to me, as I remember as a lowly drone in the Boston Museum of Fine Arts' publicity department sending Hughes at Time Magazine photos and information on Morris Louis and his ilk, with the hope of stirring up some interest for a story on the MFA show.

His book The Fatal Shore, a history of Australia, is also recommended, with the caveat that you'll need a strong constitution and plenty of time to get through this thorough-to-a-fault chronicle.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A bracing dose of Robert Hughes, January 10, 2009
This review is from: Things I Didn't Know (Vintage) (Paperback)
Everything you ever wanted to know about Robert Hughes, and perhaps more, in the first installment of his autobiography. Readers of "The Fatal Shore" and his art criticism will enjoy learning about his early days (upper middle-class Sydney family; Catholic; loss of his father at age 12). Hughes has some wonderful stories to tell, and as always with him, the writing is luminous. Hughes's writing about art invites us to see the almost chemical reaction that the art produces in him. This is fascinating, and it's fun to see how he developed his formidable descriptive powers over time.

The problem, however, is that Hughes cannot resist swerving into cultural criticism. Here he has little to say that's new, and he becomes a bit of a bore. He spends a lot of time attacking too-easy targets -- like the excesses of the 1960s. You can take or leave his aggressive "cultural elitism" (on balance, I'll take it), but he's a lot less of a counter-revolutionary than he seems to think he is. When Hughes moves away from the central poles of the book -- Australia, and the beginnings of his own engagement with art -- he is less articulate, less insightful, and much less attractive.

It's an engaging portrait of a complex man. (Who would have guessed he's such a fan of Robert Crumb?!) If a second volume appears I will certainly read it. But I think I'll pass on the chance to sit down with him for the proverbial beer.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I might have given it four stars..., July 17, 2013
By 
James Levy (Levittown, NY United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Things I Didn't Know (Vintage) (Paperback)
but the negative comments here are so filled with gratuitous malice that I've gone for five. In fact, the book hovers between four and five stars, and reflects the work not of a man in a hurry for a paycheck, but a man trying to recover from almost unimaginable injuries and making an effort to come to grips with his memories. The result is less than perfect but still a superior accomplishment. It tells us a great deal about his native Australia, which perhaps other readers know intimately but I do not, and about finding one's way in the world. I experienced the book as engaging, credible, and interesting. One of my saddest regrets is that I never met the man, as his Shock of the New, Culture of Complaint, and American Visions informed and inspired me. That the second volume of memoirs will never be adds to my sorrow. Sic transit gloria mundi.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining Memoir - Too Bad There's No Volume 2, October 4, 2012
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Things I Didn't Know (Vintage) (Paperback)
This memoir by the famous art critic and author tracks his life from his birth in 1938 to about 1970 when he embarked on his stint as art critic for Time magazine and started to become famous. As with many memoirs, coverage is uneven, and in some sequences the timeline is confusing. But Hughes is at his most informative when he indulges in brief digressions about art and artists he has known, and at his funniest when he savages the foolishness of swinging London in the '60's (the Jimi Hendrix story is priceless.) The first chapter is unforgettably personal and touching, as he remembers a horrific auto crash in 1999 in Western Australia and its aftermath. I am sorry he published only this volume, as it stops just before he became a public figure and "the most feared art critic of his time," as the Wall Street Journal put it.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4.0 out of 5 stars Good Read, January 6, 2013
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Things I Didn't Know (Vintage) (Paperback)
this was a good read, a memoir of one of our best art critics...interesting to get a peek into his life
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5 of 9 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Tedious., April 23, 2011
By 
Toni Mack (Lone Star State) - See all my reviews
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I've been a Robert Hughes fan literally for decades. His American Visions is the definitive account of American art and when and how it went wrong. I wanted very much to like this memoir. But I couldn't stick it.

The first chapter, about the author's near-fatal auto accident, is riveting -- but where was the copy editor? Hughes refers to one person by the wrong name, ditto repeatedly an Australian state, and adds 50 and 90 to get 130.

What follows is tedious. Readers don't need the minutiae of multiple Hughes generations, or the WWII posters displayed in young Hughes's home, or its few original artworks.

This reader didn't, anyway. Good luck to you if you do.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great reading!, September 25, 2012
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Things I Didn't Know (Vintage) (Paperback)
Robert Hughes is a very articulate writer.
I have read other more recent books, but given his recent death, wanted to read some earlier works.
Highly recommended reading.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting read - an unabashed memoir, January 28, 2010
By 
Michael P. McCullough "moik" (Klamath Falls, Oregon, USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Things I Didn't Know (Vintage) (Paperback)
I am having trouble remembering how I came to buy and read this book because (until I read this book) I really didn't know who Robert Hughes is (Except that I recall reading *The Fatal Shore* twenty years ago - I'm pretty sure I chanced upon it while surfing in Amazon).

Well now I do! He is an Australian art critic (who wrote for Time magazine), an unabashed snob (as seen in the first chapter), and a tremendously interesting writer. He was raised Catholic and rich in Sydney, became interested in art at a young age, traveled extensively and lived in London during the sixties - an era for which he has some interesting observations. This book flows through his life and is filled with his opinions about art and the people he has known.

I don't know why, but I stopped reading this book for several months as it laid on the floor next to my bed, and just recently picked it up to finish during an airport sojourn. Interesting read and well written. Sometimes it's fun to read a biography of a semi-famous person you are barely familiar with - give it a try.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 2 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

Details

Things I Didn't Know (Vintage)
Things I Didn't Know (Vintage) by Robert Hughes (Paperback - December 4, 2007)
$18.95 $16.25
In Stock
Add to cart Add to wishlist
Search these reviews only
Rate and Discover Movies
Send us feedback How can we make Amazon Customer Reviews better for you? Let us know here.