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When Edie was first published, it quickly became an international best-seller and then took its place among the classic books about the 1960's. Edie Sedgwick exploded into the public eye like a comet. She seemed to have it all: she was aristocratic and glamorous, vivacious and young, Andy Warhol’s superstar. But within a few years she flared out as quickly as she had appea When Edie was first published, it quickly became an international best-seller and then took its place among the classic books about the 1960's. Edie Sedgwick exploded into the public eye like a comet. She seemed to have it all: she was aristocratic and glamorous, vivacious and young, Andy Warhol’s superstar. But within a few years she flared out as quickly as she had appeared, and before she turned twenty-nine she was dead from a drug overdose. In a dazzling tapestry of voices—family, friends, lovers, rivals—the entire meteoric trajectory of Edie Sedgwick’s life is brilliantly captured. And so is the Pop Art world of the 60's: the sex, drugs, fashion, music—the mad rush for pleasure and fame. All glitter and flash on the outside, it was hollow and desperate within—like Edie herself, and like her mentor, Andy Warhol. Alternately mesmerizing, tragic, and horrifying, this book shattered many myths about the 60's experience in America.


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When Edie was first published, it quickly became an international best-seller and then took its place among the classic books about the 1960's. Edie Sedgwick exploded into the public eye like a comet. She seemed to have it all: she was aristocratic and glamorous, vivacious and young, Andy Warhol’s superstar. But within a few years she flared out as quickly as she had appea When Edie was first published, it quickly became an international best-seller and then took its place among the classic books about the 1960's. Edie Sedgwick exploded into the public eye like a comet. She seemed to have it all: she was aristocratic and glamorous, vivacious and young, Andy Warhol’s superstar. But within a few years she flared out as quickly as she had appeared, and before she turned twenty-nine she was dead from a drug overdose. In a dazzling tapestry of voices—family, friends, lovers, rivals—the entire meteoric trajectory of Edie Sedgwick’s life is brilliantly captured. And so is the Pop Art world of the 60's: the sex, drugs, fashion, music—the mad rush for pleasure and fame. All glitter and flash on the outside, it was hollow and desperate within—like Edie herself, and like her mentor, Andy Warhol. Alternately mesmerizing, tragic, and horrifying, this book shattered many myths about the 60's experience in America.

30 review for Edie: An American Biography

  1. 4 out of 5

    WILLIAM2

    Shattering. Edie's story is a tragedy. Wait until you meet her family. Her father should have been taken out at dawn, blindfolded and shot. Moreover, if you want insight into the 1960s New York art world and contemporary culture as a whole, this is your book. It's redolent of America in the '60s. Fascinating. Shattering. Edie's story is a tragedy. Wait until you meet her family. Her father should have been taken out at dawn, blindfolded and shot. Moreover, if you want insight into the 1960s New York art world and contemporary culture as a whole, this is your book. It's redolent of America in the '60s. Fascinating.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Ian "Marvin" Graye

    Place Holder This is the type of book that, when I see a copy on the shelf of a second-hand book store, I buy it, so that I can give it to someone. I don't even have to have someone in mind at the time. I can work that out later. The point is that a book this good has to find a home on the shelf of someone who loves life, people and writing (well, interviewing) at its best. This was my first experience of a biography assembled from direct quotes from hundreds of interviews, without any bridging tex Place Holder This is the type of book that, when I see a copy on the shelf of a second-hand book store, I buy it, so that I can give it to someone. I don't even have to have someone in mind at the time. I can work that out later. The point is that a book this good has to find a home on the shelf of someone who loves life, people and writing (well, interviewing) at its best. This was my first experience of a biography assembled from direct quotes from hundreds of interviews, without any bridging text to get in the way of the story. I have never seen this technique used better than here.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Dave Gunn

    Poor, poor Edie. if you only know the sleep i lost because i couldn't quit reading your life story told by people who envied, despised, laid, loved and destroyed you. This book, discovered from a footnote of a footnote, says a lot about desire and protection. Her end story is a story that is now well known and rather ridiculous in the way it plays out, but her beginnings, like many tragic figures, is what kickstarts this oral history with an almost storybook like cast of characters, from her eas Poor, poor Edie. if you only know the sleep i lost because i couldn't quit reading your life story told by people who envied, despised, laid, loved and destroyed you. This book, discovered from a footnote of a footnote, says a lot about desire and protection. Her end story is a story that is now well known and rather ridiculous in the way it plays out, but her beginnings, like many tragic figures, is what kickstarts this oral history with an almost storybook like cast of characters, from her east coast ties to old money and her greek-like father Francis Fuzzy, who has the right mind to raise his children on a picturesque ranch but all the while ripping them to shreds (many of the children end up committing suicide or dying of other circumstances way before EDIE goes the way of the buffalo). Who's to say what would have become of EDIE had she'd been raised instead in the wilderness of the big city which eventually supported her preferred lifestyle and led her to her downfall, as one gets the impression she was a caught bobcat left in a cage of the open-range wilderness, where big dreams are tied directly to the openess of the sky, until someone came along and set her free on the highway.... Best oral history I've ever read, and would love to find a book someday that equals or tops its scope in relation to the continuing American saga.....

  4. 4 out of 5

    Janet

    The first biography I'd ever read completely constructed of reported memories of the subject from people who'd been in his or her circle or encountered him or her in some way. Edie Sedgwick was the Sixties' version of poor little rich girl, descended on both sides from men who founded the Colonies, families which remained prominent throughout American history. (A gander at http://www.geni.com/people/Edie-Sedgw... will give you some idea.) Her father was a Western artist of the heroic mold, a bla The first biography I'd ever read completely constructed of reported memories of the subject from people who'd been in his or her circle or encountered him or her in some way. Edie Sedgwick was the Sixties' version of poor little rich girl, descended on both sides from men who founded the Colonies, families which remained prominent throughout American history. (A gander at http://www.geni.com/people/Edie-Sedgw... will give you some idea.) Her father was a Western artist of the heroic mold, a black sheep who raised his own family isolated on a vast ranch near Santa Barbara. (Edie, seventh of eight, was schooled on the property with her siblings and some of the ranch hands.) It was Olympus, and just as dysfunctional. Mental illness, suicide, etc. were just the beginning. Edie went East as a teenager for hospitalization at Silver Hill, an iconic Massachusetts mental hospital, and after that, to cut a streak through East Coast coolness--first making a splash on Brattle Street in Cambridge,, then heading down to new YOrk. She was beautiful, fragile, unworldly/outrageous in a very Zelda Fitzgerald kind of way, she became a Vogue/Vreeland-designated 'Youthquaker'--symbolizing the zaniness and freedom and beauty of the Sixties. She was the girl everyone wanted to be. She was crazier than you, cooler than you, more beautiful than you could dream of being, a style setter backed up by this legendary family, and everybody wanted to know her, to be seen with her. But she was also tremendously self-destructive, and when she became Andy Warhol's Superstar, the fat was in the fire. A disastrous affair with Dylan was the capper--she was fragile and egoless and drug addicted, and to be treated like shit by that famous a--hole broke this unicorn's back. Gaitskill's Veronica I think is a speculation, 'What if Edie Sedgwick lived?' I came to Edie in the '80s, when she was once again a symbol of a certain kind of edgy beauty, charm, Haute Cool bohemianism that had us all entranced. As much a portrait of a time and a place, as well as a girl--I've read this book every four or five years.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Lynx

    “She was a catalyst. By being in contact with her, the edges were sharper. An evening with Edie would only end when Edie had got to the point of exhaustion, which would be at the end of 2 or 3 days. There’s that old Yogi axiom: the higher you go, the further you fall. We all know that. She liked walking very close to extinction, always.” From the moment Edith Minturn Sedgwick was born she was destined for both greatness and hardship. Desperate to break free from the clutches of her overbearing, “She was a catalyst. By being in contact with her, the edges were sharper. An evening with Edie would only end when Edie had got to the point of exhaustion, which would be at the end of 2 or 3 days. There’s that old Yogi axiom: the higher you go, the further you fall. We all know that. She liked walking very close to extinction, always.” From the moment Edith Minturn Sedgwick was born she was destined for both greatness and hardship. Desperate to break free from the clutches of her overbearing, abusive father, Edie (along with a number of her siblings) would be in and out of multiple psychiatric hospitals by the time she turned 20. It wasn’t until she began attending Cambridge as an art student miles away from the family ranch in Santa Barbara that the world opened up for her. Adored by all those around her Edie got her first real taste of freedom and fame. Within a year she had conquered the Harvard/Cambridge scene and set her sights for something bigger, New York City. Word travels fast and within a couple months Edie was Manhattan’s new “It Girl” with people like Bob Dylan, Bob Neuwirth and Lester Persky knocking on her door. In March of 1965 Edie was introduced to Andy Warhol who knew a star when he saw one and together they became a sensation. In a mere 6 months Edie had starred in multiple Warhol productions, traveled to Europe with him to promote their films and was being mobbed at art galleries by adoring fans. The press had dubbed her “Girl of the Year” and there seemed to be no limit to the possibilities that lie ahead. But Edie’s mind was elsewhere, mourning the deaths of two of her brothers and forever in fear of her father putting her away again. Edie lived like everyday would be her last with mass excess in every aspect. After spending her entire $80,000 inheritance in that first 6 months all Edie had left was her fame and a massive drug addiction. As quickly as she rose came a hard fall. By the end of the year Edie and Andy’s relationship was on the rocks, the modelling and acting gigs began to disappear and her family cut her off completely. Edie would continue to fight, desperately trying to out-run the Sedgwick curse that claimed her dear brothers. For those who only know of Edie through her beautiful photographs, or the very loosely based biopic Factory Girl, this is her TRUE story. Easily one of the most magnificent Oral History books ever published. To learn more about Edie check out Muses & Stuff

  6. 5 out of 5

    Ryan Chapman

    Edited by Jean Stein and George Plimpton, this massive oral biography does well the formidable job of presenting a tragic life, the Warhol scene, and even the old families of New England. Edie Sedgwick died at age 28 after becoming famous as the first Factory girl, an Oscar Wilde/Paris Hilton fame of being oneself first, and then pursuing projects afterward. The interview subjects range from Truman Capote to Andy Warhol to Gregory Corso to various family members, and are presented without backgr Edited by Jean Stein and George Plimpton, this massive oral biography does well the formidable job of presenting a tragic life, the Warhol scene, and even the old families of New England. Edie Sedgwick died at age 28 after becoming famous as the first Factory girl, an Oscar Wilde/Paris Hilton fame of being oneself first, and then pursuing projects afterward. The interview subjects range from Truman Capote to Andy Warhol to Gregory Corso to various family members, and are presented without background information in short, numbered chapters. Even on the base level of organization this biography is impressive: how do you edit thousands and thousands of interviews with over 250 people into a compelling, thorough narrative? I highly, highly recommend this one. Edie herself is a mysterious character you feel only lived for other people, failing at living at all for herself. She had no interior, simply something distracted by cameras, alcohol, and massive drug use. Fitting that this life then is shown through the voices of other people. You get the sense, tragically, that nobody really knew her because there was no real "her" to know: she merely existed as a media moment, something beautiful—not 10 pages pass without someone reminiscing of their first sight and coup de foudre of Edie—that in order to be famous couldn't exist in the normal world. The book performs the basic task of relating her life from birth to death, but also works as a critique of how modern fame functions in America. Nobody comes out better on the other side: casualties are listed throughout, even touching Warhol through his near-fatal shooting by Valerie Solanas and his subsequent reclusion. Everything is presented plainly, in a quietly devastating style. An excellent book.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Anita Dalton

    This book helped me hate Andy Warhol just a little less, because it is clear he was not responsible for the denigration and demise of Edie Sedgwick. Edie was going to end up dead of an overdose or a suicide attempt one way or the other, and while Andy was a parasite, the blame for his death cannot be laid at his doorstep. Mostly this book was interesting in a voyeuristic manner. I felt a similar sense of looking into the lives of a certain sort of elite when reading about John Cheever's life. Thi This book helped me hate Andy Warhol just a little less, because it is clear he was not responsible for the denigration and demise of Edie Sedgwick. Edie was going to end up dead of an overdose or a suicide attempt one way or the other, and while Andy was a parasite, the blame for his death cannot be laid at his doorstep. Mostly this book was interesting in a voyeuristic manner. I felt a similar sense of looking into the lives of a certain sort of elite when reading about John Cheever's life. This book stands as a direct refutation to the old canard that the rich are not like us - they are better. Fuzzy Sedgwick, Edie's father, was a living emblem of how money can lead one to believe one is almost a God. His arrogance destroyed his children and his weak wife stood by and let it happen. Two sons committed suicide, Edie died of a drug overdose, the eldest daughter cut off ties with most of her family and it was all a direct result of having a lecherous, nasty, arrogant, self-absorbed narcissist for a father. In a way, this book, told via the remembrances of those who knew Edie and her family, is a third party examination of how women with borderline personality are created. Because from the perspective of armchair psychology, Edie was definitely a borderline. There were a couple of moments wherein I literally cringed when reading of Edie's behavior. After she had left The Factory, Edie fell in with a group of bikers. She had no sense of the danger she was courting, as she was genuinely convinced of her charm. According to a man called Preacher Ewing, Edie would flirt and tease the bikers at bars and, had it not been for a couple of male friends who prevented it, she was opening herself up to a gang rape. She was so accustomed to being the most beautiful and sought-after girl in the room, and having dealt with the dregs that were often attracted to Andy Warhol, she had an over-inflated sense of her desirability and the civility her money and quasi-fame bought her. This was a terribly sad book in so many ways. But, like most tales of how the mighty have fallen, it was a fast, gripping read.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Lylah

    This is a laboriously researched and edited oral history. It introduced me to both oral histories (which I LOVE) and an era in American pop culture. I have a vivid memory of seeing this book in the bookstore (one of my favorite places as a kid) when it came out in 1982 and wanting to read it because I liked the cover. 15 years later it became a personal favorite. The book jacket describes the Pop Art scene of the 60s as "All glitter and flash on the outside, it was hollow and desperate within—lik This is a laboriously researched and edited oral history. It introduced me to both oral histories (which I LOVE) and an era in American pop culture. I have a vivid memory of seeing this book in the bookstore (one of my favorite places as a kid) when it came out in 1982 and wanting to read it because I liked the cover. 15 years later it became a personal favorite. The book jacket describes the Pop Art scene of the 60s as "All glitter and flash on the outside, it was hollow and desperate within—like Edie herself, and like her mentor, Andy Warhol." That's a good description. I don't think Edie, Warhol or the 60s pop world were *only* "hollow and desperate," but all certainly were hollow and desperate. The book does a good job of illustrating an era when people were still very naive about the downside of heavy drug use and the ability of young people on drugs to "change the world." It also illustrates a very American blending and clashing of cultures and generations. There's some interesting class stuff between Warhol (who came from a working class immigrant family) and people like Edie (who was a true American blue blood with a long, impressive pedigree), too. Being an oral history, the book shows more than tells you these things, using a huge variety of authentic voices (from Edie's aristocratic relatives, to people from the pop art and fashion worlds, to the bikers and street characters Edie hung out with in her last years). Highly recommended to anyone with an interest in the era. "Ciao Manhattan," the film made with and about Edie from 1965-70 (not easy to watch) is a great companion to the book.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Sketchbook

    Plimpton: Drunk. Closeted. Slob. Gov stoolie. Jean Stein: She wanted to be a WASP. ~~ A self-righteous tome focused on a girl who came from a disturbed family that makes schmucks feel godly. The authors want to blame Warhol for her downfall, but it won't wash. The authors are repressed juvenile bores. "Blame it on their youth."

  10. 5 out of 5

    Muffy Kroha

    This book was a huge stylistic influence on me in college- I even made over my roomate to look like her ( I would have done so for myself, but I made a much better Funny Girl era Streisand) Such a good look she had! Around that same time my friends and I stood in line for hours to meet Andy Warhol and get his autograph- I didn't think about it as a faux pas at the time, I was still a teenager after all, but I took this book and a few xeroxes of him and Edie that I had colored in crayon!!!! Horror This book was a huge stylistic influence on me in college- I even made over my roomate to look like her ( I would have done so for myself, but I made a much better Funny Girl era Streisand) Such a good look she had! Around that same time my friends and I stood in line for hours to meet Andy Warhol and get his autograph- I didn't think about it as a faux pas at the time, I was still a teenager after all, but I took this book and a few xeroxes of him and Edie that I had colored in crayon!!!! Horrors- But this style of "art"-HAH! was in fashion at the time!!! Needless to say that went over like a turd in a punch bowl and the end of his signature is a long dark line that started as he read the title of what he was signing- I remember him doing a pause as his pen dragged off the page- It was wierd.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Winter Sophia Rose

    Fascinating, Compelling, Unforgettable & Haunting! An Incredible Read! I Loved It! Fascinating, Compelling, Unforgettable & Haunting! An Incredible Read! I Loved It!

  12. 5 out of 5

    Vanessa

    Reading this book is like running a marathon in a way: sometimes you have to take a breather to slow down so you don't run yourself into the ground. This book is slow and dreamlike in parts, whilst fast-paced and relentless in others. Reading is an experience in itself - I found myself getting to the point where I felt like I was actually there in that era, in the Factory and all the other places mentioned in the book with them. And not just that, it's horribly sad. Most people probably have some Reading this book is like running a marathon in a way: sometimes you have to take a breather to slow down so you don't run yourself into the ground. This book is slow and dreamlike in parts, whilst fast-paced and relentless in others. Reading is an experience in itself - I found myself getting to the point where I felt like I was actually there in that era, in the Factory and all the other places mentioned in the book with them. And not just that, it's horribly sad. Most people probably have some kind of idea about what Edie Sedgwick's life was like before even picking up this book; I know I did. Warhol and Factory superstar socialite whose light fizzled out far too quickly. What most of us don't know however is the story of her family and her upbringing, something extremely interesting but also extremely shocking to read. I felt disgusted reading about her father's actions towards Edie and the rest of his children, and saddened by the loss and the troubles that Edie experienced at such an early age. This is by no means a happy book, though it was never meant to be. The way the book has been put together is admirable, compiled of interviews from around 250 people who knew or knew of Edie. In this way, the portrayal we get of Sedgwick is flawed - where some adored her, others couldn't stand her. I think this is effective in portraying Edie as a person however, as her personality seemed to be made up of so many different facets that it's hard to get to the core and discover the girl who she really was, sans the drugs and psychological problems. I've given this 3 stars not because I thought it wasn't a very good book, but specifically because although it is extremely insightful, vivid and a great read, I couldn't pick it up again for quite a while. Very harrowing.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Andrew Schirmer

    Un-putdown-able intersection of WASP aristocracy, mental illness, Warholian excesses, and speed. Quite a bit of speed. Like an overlong, but fascinating piece from Vanity Fair.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Tasha

    3.5 but maybe a 4, depending on my mood I guess. A page turner at the start but still kept me going until the end despite a thought or two of just having had enough of the 'scene' at times. I read about Edie and Warhol when I was much younger, late teens/early 20s...back in the late 80s/90s... and remember being pretty much wowed by them and so very fascinated. In reading about them now, many years later, I was more disturbed than wowed. Edie's early life with her family was terribly tragic and 3.5 but maybe a 4, depending on my mood I guess. A page turner at the start but still kept me going until the end despite a thought or two of just having had enough of the 'scene' at times. I read about Edie and Warhol when I was much younger, late teens/early 20s...back in the late 80s/90s... and remember being pretty much wowed by them and so very fascinated. In reading about them now, many years later, I was more disturbed than wowed. Edie's early life with her family was terribly tragic and it seemed to help create this destructive, damaged being. She truly was a tragic, self-destructive time bomb. I started the book totally engrossed and fascinated by her early years and family life, it was a page turner. Once she got heavily into the NY 60s scene it just became a tragedy and it was like watching (reading) a train wreck. With time and life experience, my perspective has changed so that what might have seemed cool at the time now only came off as so sad. The format of the book, which is full of interview snippets, allowed for many perspectives of Edie but these views surely must be taken with a grain of salt as many of these comments seemed not only self-indulgent but peppered with these people's own feelings about Edie. I think we get a good take on her tragic life though with this format as we really do get a glimpse into her train-wreck of a life. I finished this book with a sense of sadness at the loss of a damaged soul.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Salem

    Six different people have recommended this book to me over the last year. Jean Stein's narrative format is borrowed heavily from Studs Terkel, but still effective here. Wikipedia says that she had an affair with Faulkner and then offered an interview with him to the Paris Review as long as they would give her an editor position, which they did. Wikipedia also said that Sinbad, the comedian, was dead for a while, so YMMV but you gotta love anyone that uses a really great moment of intimacy as a b Six different people have recommended this book to me over the last year. Jean Stein's narrative format is borrowed heavily from Studs Terkel, but still effective here. Wikipedia says that she had an affair with Faulkner and then offered an interview with him to the Paris Review as long as they would give her an editor position, which they did. Wikipedia also said that Sinbad, the comedian, was dead for a while, so YMMV but you gotta love anyone that uses a really great moment of intimacy as a bargaining chip for gainful employment. I lament that this would not work at the Pizza Hut or any of my fer sure future employers. Yeah, it's a good read, but wow, yet another memoir of the 1950s/1960s/1970s that can be summed up with: Hey - Men Are Scum. Also, it would have been nice if Jean Stein interviewed at least one person who found Sedgwick completely unattractive. Also, imagine this woman's life story if she had been born with no money or was overweight. Yeah. Uh huh? Hmm. Stuff White People LIke dot com!

  16. 5 out of 5

    Tracy O

    Just pulled this off of the book shelf from the past because I needed a beach read over the long weekend. First half is like Jane Goodall watching mountain gorillas - except that instead of mountain gorillas it's a detailed look into a certain segment of the New England upper class (and, the sub-section of that group that is truly nuts), and the New York very social scene in the 60's especially around Andy Warhol (and, the sub-section of that group that was truly nuts). Second part of the book i Just pulled this off of the book shelf from the past because I needed a beach read over the long weekend. First half is like Jane Goodall watching mountain gorillas - except that instead of mountain gorillas it's a detailed look into a certain segment of the New England upper class (and, the sub-section of that group that is truly nuts), and the New York very social scene in the 60's especially around Andy Warhol (and, the sub-section of that group that was truly nuts). Second part of the book is concentrated on various drugs being injected into people's bodies - very detailed accounts of this to the point where I felt like - oh, gosh, not another injection. First half was interesting and the second half was sad. Less a story about one person than the scenes she was into. All told in short pieces of interviews - very reportage-y and I liked the style of that sometimes more than the content. Definitely beach material.

  17. 4 out of 5

    gwayle

    I love how Jean Stein uses oral histories to tell Edie Sedgwick's story; I love how she begins with Edie's ancestors. Edie is like quicksilver dancing between the various anecdotes that convey her moody, maddening, charismatic, contradictory character. The 1960s New York pop art scene depicted in these pages defies belief, and Warhol is not a sympathetic character. When I started the book, all I could think about was how short Edie's life was, how tragic to die at twenty-nine. After I finished i I love how Jean Stein uses oral histories to tell Edie Sedgwick's story; I love how she begins with Edie's ancestors. Edie is like quicksilver dancing between the various anecdotes that convey her moody, maddening, charismatic, contradictory character. The 1960s New York pop art scene depicted in these pages defies belief, and Warhol is not a sympathetic character. When I started the book, all I could think about was how short Edie's life was, how tragic to die at twenty-nine. After I finished it, having survived the endless blow-by-blow of Edie's outrageous antics, all I could think is, how the hell did Edie live so long?

  18. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer Glick

    Don't speed, fashion, poor little rich girl incest victims and modern art make such a wonderful gumbo? Ugh, I cursed myself for getting to NYC after Andy died. It all sounded like so much fun. Now what can we do?

  19. 4 out of 5

    Alvin

    This well-researched and un-romanticized bio of a beautiful, fun, druggy, but ultimately inconsequential heiress, is a must read for students of Andy Warhol, who is easily one of the 20 greatest humans who ever lived.

  20. 5 out of 5

    WORN Fashion Journal

    You’ve probably already heard some version of events of the life of this stylish socialite. In late 2006, a film about Edie Sedgwick was released. Entitled Factory Girl , it had Sienna Miller playing a wide-eyed Mary Sue of sorts, who could tame horses and make even the surliest of weak Bob Dylan impersonators fall in love with her. Her downfall and drug addiction was sparked by the treatment of the Big Bad Andy Warhol, leading to her eventual death. The almost cartoonish biopic of the famed s You’ve probably already heard some version of events of the life of this stylish socialite. In late 2006, a film about Edie Sedgwick was released. Entitled Factory Girl , it had Sienna Miller playing a wide-eyed Mary Sue of sorts, who could tame horses and make even the surliest of weak Bob Dylan impersonators fall in love with her. Her downfall and drug addiction was sparked by the treatment of the Big Bad Andy Warhol, leading to her eventual death. The almost cartoonish biopic of the famed sixties socialite, while rooted in the truth, favours the more salacious aspects of Sedgwick’s legendarily sensational life. Her biography, Edie: an American Girl , does not take such a dramatized view of Sedgwick’s life, but it doesn’t marginalize this perspective either. Jean Stein compiles her story entirely from other people’s memories of the icon: her family members, peers, doctors, and pretty much everyone else who had any sort of contact with her during her brief lifespan (including Mr. Warhol himself). The editor retains many of Sedgwick’s more human traits – the good and the bad - rather than elevating her to the goddess-like status she had in the movie. Every memory of her is meticulously recorded, often producing contradicting points of view from different people. For instance, we quickly see the difference in how Sedgwick is perceived by her siblings. Her eldest sister, Saucie, sees her as a narcissistic bully, whereas Suky, her youngest sister, completely idolizes Sedgwick, looking up to her as the single most creative being on the planet. The rest of her biography is peppered with these directly opposing points of view. Depending on who was asked, Sedgwick was either a junkie or the life of the party, a kind soul or a jealous wreck, a free spirit or a victim trapped by the boundaries of her lifestyle. The book declines to make judgements and never really gives an exact account of whose perspective is the most trustworthy, leaving Sedgwick's true persona something of a riddle wrapped in a mystery wrapped in black tights and a cropped silver haircut. From a fashion perspective at least, Sedgwick’s status as a style icon is clear. Her clothing choices, which were remembered as much as the woman herself, reflected her party girl persona - inventive, over the top, and a bit ridiculous. She was a true original when it came to getting dressed, unafraid to take risks when colouring her hair or donning dramatic leopard print coats. She would joke with her friends at the factory about how she wouldn’t wear underwear, or would go out in public wearing a fur coat with nothing underneath. Her appearance was always one of her biggest priorities; she often bought clothes that she could not afford. The book includes several black and white pictures, including stills from her screen tests and modeling shots from Vogue (Patti Smith claims that one particular Vogue photo shoot with Sedgwick posing on her bed in front of a picture of a horse was hugely influential to her as a teen). It's easy to see how Sedgwick's fashion influence remains strong, particularly in today's hipster counterculture – with her waifish figure, heavy eyeliner and black tights she would not be out of place on lookbook.nu. Whether she was an artistic revolutionary or just a glorified Paris Hilton-esque socialite is up for debate, but there is little doubt that Sedgwick led an intriguing life filled with intriguing people. Her biography is an interesting read that sheds light on some of the darker details of her life - sans the cringeworthy Bob Dylan portrayal. (reviewed by Anna Fitzpatrick)

  21. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca Hyland

    I devoured this in about two days, stuck sick at home. I've never read a book quite like this. It's not just exhaustively researched (hundreds of interviewees, 10 years in the making), but there's no direct commentary from the author. Interview transcripts with people from Edie Sedgwick's life make up the entire content of the book. In other words, it's not just (not quite?) a biography, but an oral history. Before the book I was only vaguely aware of Edie Sedgwick as the beautiful "it" girl from I devoured this in about two days, stuck sick at home. I've never read a book quite like this. It's not just exhaustively researched (hundreds of interviewees, 10 years in the making), but there's no direct commentary from the author. Interview transcripts with people from Edie Sedgwick's life make up the entire content of the book. In other words, it's not just (not quite?) a biography, but an oral history. Before the book I was only vaguely aware of Edie Sedgwick as the beautiful "it" girl from the Andy Warhol scene; I sought this one out on a friend's recommendation. Part of me tires of stories of tragic beautiful people who are famous for being famous, as if theirs are the only stories worth telling or people worth listening to - but hey, that's what I signed up for with a book like this. As I said, it's exhaustively researched, and lays a great foundation to understand the family dynamics that likely led to the choices made later in life. Her father was told by a psychiatrist not to have kids...and he had eight, Edie being the seventh. The power that her beauty gave her was often used as self-sabotage as she'd sweet talk people into getting her drugs or springing her from rehab facilities. Her patterns with her narcissistic father no doubt contributed to falling into the orbit of Andy Warhol. She could've made a fortune as a model and was quite a talented artist in her own right, but she let herself be overshadowed by the men in her life, always searching for love and feeling empty even as everyone (superficially) fell in love with her. She likely had undiagnosed bipolar disorder (especially alarming since she did have many psychiatric hospitalizations). She also did copious amounts of drugs. So, her fate couldn't entirely be blamed on her family or the men in her life, but they most certainly didn't help, and The Factory is where she first encountered hard drugs. (Speaking of drugs and bad men, one of her first encounters with drugs was walking in on her father with another woman and her dad giving her a bunch of tranquilizers so he could tell everyone she was crazy and making things up). This book is from 1982 when the story of Edie's death only stretched about as far back as a 10 year high school reunion. The great wealth of people the author had access to make this a, "show, don't tell" masterpiece. You really feel like you're right there - on her sprawling family ranch, in the middle of the New York '60s art scene, partying with her Harvard friends - because they were. And the speakers aren't necessarily writers (though some are), but they're all fascinating. There are basically three types of interviewees here - her rich, WASP-y, Harvard educated family; New York art scene types; and drug friends. Many of the people interviewed are famous (Patti Smith, Norman Mailer, Truman Capote). These are people who use words like "manqué" and just rattle off lines like, "Well, I have a roped-off pew in the church of my heart for the obsessed." Totally engrossing from start to finish; not a boring page in the bunch.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Ellena

    I love this book a lot. This is my third time reading it. I think it's my first time reading it all the way through. I used to skip the first few chapters (about Sedgwick family members) because I thought they were boring or something. Now I'm obsessed with them. I like drawing a complete portrait of these people and the time period. I have no personal connection to all-American Ivy League/prep school, so reading a snapshot of it is really interesting. I've seen Cat Marnell, drug-loving writer fo I love this book a lot. This is my third time reading it. I think it's my first time reading it all the way through. I used to skip the first few chapters (about Sedgwick family members) because I thought they were boring or something. Now I'm obsessed with them. I like drawing a complete portrait of these people and the time period. I have no personal connection to all-American Ivy League/prep school, so reading a snapshot of it is really interesting. I've seen Cat Marnell, drug-loving writer for Vice, write that she thinks Edie was stupid. I think it's clear that Edie had a messed up childhood (two youngest sleep in a separate mini house with their nanny?), and was pretty naive. From that point on I don't think she really had time to mature. Getting into drugs seems to have impaired her maturity as well. I do think that the interviews are beautifully arranged. I love the descriptions of settings and conversations. However, I think the storyline falters when Edie starts hanging out with Andy. Up until that moment, there was a fair amount of Edie coverage. All of a sudden there are so many chapters about Andy Warhol and the Factory. It would have been fine if they included more about Edie in there, but it felt sparse. I feel like a big chunk of Edie's day to day life was missing for those years in the book. And not enough information about the parents! And the other siblings. I know there are a million acceptable reasons for why they shouldn't give up that info, but I want to know!

  23. 5 out of 5

    Ashley

    I had seen the movie Factory Girl years ago and LOVED IT though wow who is it his girl.. But never went through to see who she was... Then I seen on here a few biographies and said what the heck.. So I made an order and added this book to the list.. And sat waiting When I opened the amazon box finally came I grabbed this first and seen it was quotes.... Ok I thought what did I buy.... But I held out and FINALY decided to read it!!! Boy am I happy I did. It starts out about the Sedgwick family backgr I had seen the movie Factory Girl years ago and LOVED IT though wow who is it his girl.. But never went through to see who she was... Then I seen on here a few biographies and said what the heck.. So I made an order and added this book to the list.. And sat waiting When I opened the amazon box finally came I grabbed this first and seen it was quotes.... Ok I thought what did I buy.... But I held out and FINALY decided to read it!!! Boy am I happy I did. It starts out about the Sedgwick family background... And then when it gets to Edie it's a downward turn... The girl had a terrible childhood, and when she FINALY goes off on her own she's used and thrown to the dump like trash..I'm not blaming anyone for her demise but someone could have seen she was in need of help.. (Come on from her Father, to her 6 out of 8 siblings dying in there 20's, to WORHOL!!! WOW) Just a very sad emotionally charged book... It did have the most gorgeous pictures though.. Very nice ones of her as a child and her at the factory, vogue, and just her. SHE WAS A KNOCKOUT!!! Very stunning lady!!! To bad no one loved her enough to help her.. I would have loved to see her pull herself up from the bootstraps and made something of herself.. At lest see her fashion sense evolve over the years... Just tragic story... I'm sad I read it...

  24. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth Olsen

    She was beautiful, she had her own style, she also had some artistic talent that didn't get much use. When she was a "star" and the "girl of the year" her life, though glamorous, was sad, and I don't mean tragically beautiful, I mean falling asleep with your lit cigarette and waking up in an inferno, sad. Either there was a dearth of resources for her personal feelings or she really was kind of empty, superficial. Someone dying because of drugs is sad but someone existing on fashion and snobs fo She was beautiful, she had her own style, she also had some artistic talent that didn't get much use. When she was a "star" and the "girl of the year" her life, though glamorous, was sad, and I don't mean tragically beautiful, I mean falling asleep with your lit cigarette and waking up in an inferno, sad. Either there was a dearth of resources for her personal feelings or she really was kind of empty, superficial. Someone dying because of drugs is sad but someone existing on fashion and snobs for the height of their existence just makes it beyond depressing. I don't think I've gained any wisdom from this book which is rare for a biography. I did learn a bit about Andy Warhol and it isn't complementary. He seemed utterly soulless. As a friend told him of Edie's death, he responded briefly, casually, then said, "what are you going to do today?" The fact that she surrounded herself with such empty people, that she cared for them in her brief precious life is almost sadder than the drug addiction that ended it.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Amy Formanski Duffy

    They recently put out the movie "Factory Girl," which was based on this biography of Edie Sedgwick. That was another movie that doesn't quite live up to the book. The book is written in what I think George Plimpton called an "oral history" style. Basically Jean Stein interviewed a ton of people who knew Edie, and then Plimpton edited those interviews into a narrative. I've never read a biography quite like this, where it's all direct quotes from people woven into a narrative. It makes the events They recently put out the movie "Factory Girl," which was based on this biography of Edie Sedgwick. That was another movie that doesn't quite live up to the book. The book is written in what I think George Plimpton called an "oral history" style. Basically Jean Stein interviewed a ton of people who knew Edie, and then Plimpton edited those interviews into a narrative. I've never read a biography quite like this, where it's all direct quotes from people woven into a narrative. It makes the events seem a lot more immediate. Of course the book would appeal to anyone who's into the 60s or the Andy Warhol Factory scene, but I just think Edie was a fascinating person. She is still a style icon, but her actual life was really sad. She was one of those insanely charismatic people who was always seeking out love and never really found it.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Nikki

    This biography of Edie Sedgwick is by all accounts interesting. Edie Sedgwick led a life that a very small percentage of the population can empathize with - she was the in-crowd of the 60s, hanging out with Andy Warhol and just being a tragically fabulous young girl. The beginning of the book brings you through the many limbs of the Sedgwick family tree - stopping to explain who everyone is and how they came to be where they are. After that, you meet Edie and are taken on the downward spiral tha This biography of Edie Sedgwick is by all accounts interesting. Edie Sedgwick led a life that a very small percentage of the population can empathize with - she was the in-crowd of the 60s, hanging out with Andy Warhol and just being a tragically fabulous young girl. The beginning of the book brings you through the many limbs of the Sedgwick family tree - stopping to explain who everyone is and how they came to be where they are. After that, you meet Edie and are taken on the downward spiral that her life was. The biggest bonus of the book is that it includes pictures, so you can flip back and forth between a person you're reading about and find their picture to match a face with the story. I thought it was pretty fascinating - the only reason for the 3 stars is that I felt bogged down at times with all the historical family facts, etc. It really is worth picking up though.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Michael Backus

    Gave it an extra star because it's kind of the seminal book of this kind, I first read this when it came out, re-read it because I had this idea about writing something; the real fascination here is the family and how one man (Edie's father) could essentially destroy an entire robust blue blood american family and he did it largely because of his own insecurities about his masculinity. Unfortunately, the book is only about this early on, once you get into the Warhol days and beyond, it's beyond Gave it an extra star because it's kind of the seminal book of this kind, I first read this when it came out, re-read it because I had this idea about writing something; the real fascination here is the family and how one man (Edie's father) could essentially destroy an entire robust blue blood american family and he did it largely because of his own insecurities about his masculinity. Unfortunately, the book is only about this early on, once you get into the Warhol days and beyond, it's beyond sad, it's borderline pointless (has Warhol ever seemed so small as he does today: as an artist, as a cultural presence, as a human being?) while we watch this self-absorbed, whacked out rich girl slowly poison herself to death.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Grace Lozada

    This was 1 of the first biographies I ever read. I was a teenager, about 15 years old. I couldn't put it down. I loved Andy Warhol at the time, but after a few of my older sisters read Edie and could not stop being obsessed with her, her life, and her life with Andy - I had to read it. Beautiful tragedy is what comes to mind when I think about her and her life. Her life, story, even touches my soul today - decades later. Greatly written. You can feel like you were there with Edie, experiencing a This was 1 of the first biographies I ever read. I was a teenager, about 15 years old. I couldn't put it down. I loved Andy Warhol at the time, but after a few of my older sisters read Edie and could not stop being obsessed with her, her life, and her life with Andy - I had to read it. Beautiful tragedy is what comes to mind when I think about her and her life. Her life, story, even touches my soul today - decades later. Greatly written. You can feel like you were there with Edie, experiencing all of her highs and lows. Highly recommended!

  29. 4 out of 5

    Sharon Blackstone

    This book was a decadent adventure. Incredible. Every minute of it provoked new emotions. I have to say, I think it broke me a little. The kind of broken you don't want to fix because it's okay to be many different pieces of a puzzle. Life is made up of pieces we try to fit into each other along the way, but there are always cracks that are just space, space within ourselves. Questions that go unanswered. It's okay to feel a little broken.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Hennesy

    It's really sad when your role model is a drug addict, but a delightful social enigmatic one. Even through her inner struggle everyone saw her sparkle, that is just plainly admirable. She was everything and nothing, I am quite envious of her. There is no doubt she was a fascinating person, there are people that are born to live and she was definitely one of those people.

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