The Memory of All that: The Life of George Gershwin
In her startling, revealing new biography, Joan Peyser gives us a brand-new George Gershwin. Although there have been other biographies of Gershwin that chronicle the dates of his compositions and performances, The Memory of All That is the first to examine the real Gershwin. Joan Peyser shows us the songwriter who became a composer, struggling - in vain - to achieve recognition in serious-music circles. She describes how the criticism that greeted his compositions after the success of Rhapsody in Blue, due largely to anti-Semitic and anti-American musical prejudices, left him disappointed and, eventually, anguished. Ms. Peyser examines the relationship between George and his brother and collaborator, Ira, whose lyrics, she believes, constitute a sort of coded biography of George's life, complete with references to the women with whom he was having affairs. The Memory of All That also contains revelations that have already generated controversy. Ms. Peyser reveals that the brain tumor that killed Gershwin at the age of thirty-eight was not the fast-growing cancerous one then described to the public but a slow-growing tumor, perhaps caused by emotional turmoil, that was, even then, operable. Gershwin suffered for years from symptoms that were dismissed as manifestations of neurotic depression by his psychiatrist and his family. Ms. Peyser also reveals that Gershwin maintained several long-term liaisons, generally with married women. Some of these affairs have never been mentioned in any previous biography, and one, with an actress and chorus girl named Mollie Charleston, produced a son who is still alive. With the same intimate, insightful approach that made her Bernstein a best-seller,Joan Peyser has written a wholehearted appreciation of the musical genius that was George Gershwin.
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