Couple early previews of Brian Kellow’s Pauline Kael: A Life in the Dark:
Kellow writes from the point of view of an admirer of Kael’s — like many of us, he came under the spell of one of her review collections when he was a movie-mad teen and then followed her week-by-week for the rest of her tenure at The New Yorker.
The book explores some of the critic’s eccentricities — she would never see a film more than once — and some problematic ethical areas (she became very close to filmmakers but did not disclose that fact in both positive and negative reviews).
Todd McCarthy (Variety):
Pauline is very fortunate in her biographer. Kellow, an erudite movie lover, features editor at Opera News and author of a book about another formidable woman, Ethel Merman, writes beautifully and dexterously interweaves the story of a career long-thwarted with a sensitive reading of his subject’s youthful enthusiasm and intellectual growth. To an impressive degree, he gets inside the head of a precocious, fearsomely smart young woman from small-town California and is able to describe what drove her, which authors turned her on (James, Hawthorne, Dostoyevsky, Melville, Woolf, Proust), her love of jazz and her distaste for aesthetic, religious and political dogma. So thoroughly does he portray the development of Pauline’s character and passionate engagement with matters aesthetic that it comes as no surprise she was able to burst onto the scene, at the relatively advanced age of 48, as one of the most dynamic cultural arbiters of the past century.