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An Emergency in Slow Motion: The Inner Life of Diane Arbus Hardcover – August 30, 2011
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"Armed with interviews with her psychotherapist as well as autobiographical fragments, this new "psychobiography" sheds light on Arbus's opaque personality. Above all, [Schultz] shows how the photographer projected her inner torment and sense of estrangement onto her unsuspecting sitters." --The Economist
"Schultz sifts and shapes his material with flair, working towards [Arbus's] death with all the planning of a good thriller. The temptation with any artist suicide, he warns us, is to find the "dark calculus" in their art. His triumph lies in making her suicide the one thing you don't see when you return to her images. -The Telegraph
"Poignant and provocative, An Emergency in Slow Motion offers an entirely new way of relating to and understanding one of the most revered and influential postmodern photographers, in the process raising timeless and universal questions about otherness, the human condition, and the quest for making peace with the self." -Brain Pickings
"Like her pictures, this dark inner life is not pretty... but it is discomfortingly enlightening." --Shelf Awareness
“Exceptional prose, illuminating psychological theory, and the visceral memories of those who knew her add up to a haunting portrait of Arbus as a tenacious and quixotic artist whose outré photographs blaze on in all their strange romance, protest, and longing.” ―Booklist
“With extraordinary interviews with new sources, William Todd Schultz's An Emergency in Slow Motion... promises to be an explosive contribution to what's known about Diane Arbus.” ―Daily Beast
“A sensitive but deeply provocative psychobiography.” ―Vogue.com
“Schultz is a sharp, lucid writer... He proceeds with a sense of reflection, perspective, and nuance.” ―NPR.org
“Our Virgil on this journey into [Arbus's] inner world is William Todd Schultz... he marshals an impressive list of sources... [and] sifts and shapes his material with flair.” ―Telegraph (UK)
“William Todd Schultz has done the impossible; he's pulled Diane Arbus out from under the black shroud of the photographer's cape and into the light. An Emergency in Slow Motion is the book Arbus's legions of admirers have long waited for: a vivisection of her psyche that allows us--the voyeurs she made of us--to understand her stark, accusatory vision.” ―Kathryn Harrison, author of The Kiss
“This portrait of the art and psyche of Diane Arbus is exciting and wrenching and full of revelations. And it is a model for the promise of William Todd Schultz's larger project to infuse psychobiography with curiosity, humility, and intelligence. Readers may be left, as I was, considering the eternal, essential, impossible problem: how to look at darkness.” ―Joshua Wolf Shenk, author of Lincoln's Melancholy
“Schultz has written a short psychological symphony. He begins with a few simple themes--about secrets and sex, about photographing freaks, about being a freak and photographing the self. Calling upon contemporary psychological research, extraordinary empathy, and a deep understanding of how madness and creativity often intersect, Schultz introduces surprising variations on these themes, as the music builds in complexity, texture, and beauty, pulling the reader forward, inexorably, to the dramatic conclusion” ―Dan P. McAdams, author of George W. Bush and the Redemptive Dream
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Top Customer Reviews
There are a few new revelations that he managed to get from Arbus' psychiatrist Helen Boigon. They are fascinating but sparse and it seems Schultz didn't dig very deep with the admissions she made. They read more like sound-bites or teasers. Dr. Boigon's revelations beg for elaboration--follow up questions. Perhaps his time with her was limited. For one glaring missed opportunity he admits that she died before he had a chance to question her about it. In addition to what he got from Helen Boigon, Shultz exchanged emails with potential Arbus subjects Phyllis and Eberhard Kronhausen (she never actually photographed them.) They tell of one very interesting encounter. All of the new information that the book offers would have made for an interesting magazine article. It is not enough to justify a book.
When I first heard about this book, I was hoping for an abundance of new information regarding Arbus not many quotes from previous published material that I have read in books or on the internet. Since the quotes were very familiar to me, I found myself skimming.Read more ›
Has no scholarly or personal connections with Diane Arbus. A waste of time to read.
As with anyone who has attained this stature, especially those who may not have appreciated her likeness of them, rumors and misrepresentations often abound. As it relates to Diane Arbus, the anecdote the public is most aware of, and is in fact accurate, is Ms. Arbus' fight with depression. Beyond that, is speculation and rumor. Our culture is all too eager to ride the salacious tide when a "weakness" is perceived.Read more ›
If one has read Bosworth's biography (early eighties), there is not much new detail to be learned here beyond the insights gained from Mr Schultz's conversation with Arbus' analyst, obviously written before the advent of HIPAA protections that should prevent medical information disclosure. There is not a lot of psychiatric revelation coming from the late Dr. Boigon either, which might appear self serving given that the therapeutic intervention proved unsuccessful.
Were the Arbus estate ever to make her entire body of work (including journals and datebooks) available, then I believe a better picture might emerge. Allan Arbus is no longer with us, Doon (the estate's custodian) is getting up in years as well. Neither cooperated with Bosworth or Schultz, nor would I expect Doon or Amy Arbus (a photographer in her own right) to deviate from their current stance that "the work should speak for itself". In my estimation, "Revelations", despite it's obvious omissions and edits, is likely to remain the last word on this great artist.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The book is so bad it is basically unreadable. It is full if obscure conjecture about Arbus's life with almost no presentation of fact.Published 23 months ago by Kevin
Considering Diane Arbus intriqued me so as a photographer, I had to read this book. She was an interesting lady, too bad she took her own life, I would love to see how her work... Read morePublished on January 9, 2013 by Khris Gochenour
"Emergency" probably works better for readers already somewhat familiar with Arbus' life/work. There are no illustrations (the Arbus estate is famous for refusing permission), so... Read morePublished on January 3, 2013 by Lucchesa
This was a gift wanted by my son in law so hopefully he enjoys the book. It arrived safe and undamaged.Published on December 28, 2012 by Rita
I would like to begin by addressing the book reviews of less than satisfied readers. It would appear that people looking to read just an ordinary biography may find Shultz's... Read morePublished on August 26, 2012 by Charlotte Haze
This talented woman was so ill, it's a wonder she could have created any art worth seeing. This story was so depressing, I finally had to stop just short of finishing it. Read morePublished on December 14, 2011 by abeytasally@gmail