Earlier this month I asked Cohen about what she was reading. Her reply:
I’m on sabbatical and between books, so plumbing the depths of disorganized reading. I’m spending some part of the day idling in travelers’ accounts of the nineteenth-century Argentine and more of it re-reading Agatha Christie’s greatest hits in order to figure out what people in Peoria (or Bremen) loved about her.Visit Deborah Cohen's website.
Amidst it all, though, there’s one book I keep coming back to: Lisa Cohen (no relation!)’s All We Know: Three Lives, published by Farrar, Strauss & Giroux in 2012. It’s the sort of writerly foray that expands the bounds of what non-fiction can accomplish. The book comprises three intertwined biographical essays about women who lived modernism in the 1920s and 1930s: the New York intellectual, Esther Murphy; Mercedes de Acosta, fan among fans; and Madge Garland, style pioneer and for a time, fashion editor of British Vogue. All We Know is a book about the meanings of failure and success and about the lessons we take away when we tot up an existence. Most importantly, it is a stirring and very stylish salute to the profundity of style.