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“De Niro: A Life”: Publication Day Hullabaloo

DeNiro CoverThe book hit shelves — brick-and-mortar and digital — yesterday, and it was greeted by a fair bit of noise.

First, a pair of reviews:  one in my hometown paper (and former employer) The Oregonian; one in the film- focused web site FlickSided.

Then there was this:  a round-up of the most personally embarrassing and scandalous material in the book ginned up by the Daily Mail of London.

I have a few thoughts to share on that last one.  Yes, it all really happened and can be verified and was vetted by a lawyer prior to publication.  And yes, I learned about it and wrote it.  But it represents perhaps 1% of my work, as opposed to 100% of the Mail’s.  My 600 pages are  far more concerned, as the reviewers above have noted, with the working life of a great artist than with the private life of a man who was on top of the world through much of the ’70s and ’80s and lived the high life of that era as many others in his milieu did.  These things happened; but they are not the whole man and they are most definitely not the whole story that I have written about the man.

There is no way to write a full biography without addressing the entire life of the subject.  The biographer simply must report what is out there to be found (and, crucially, what can be verified).  But I chose repeatedly in my years of research and writing to emphasize the thing that has made De Niro famous — his astonishing art — rather than the dirt I might have found under his fingernails; and I most assuredly did not follow every whiff of smoke that I cam across with the hope of finding the fire of scandal.  I wrote about an artist, his choices, his technique, and his impact.  Without De Niro’s art, after all, we wouldn’t know of him at all.  And then what would the Mail’s headline be:  “Unknown Man Indulges in Sex and Drugs”?  I think not.

Anyhoo, as before, the book is available in print and/or in digital formats at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Powell’s, and other purveyors of words-on-paper and/or -screens.

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