Publisher: Assouline (November 15, 2004)
Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 6.8 x 1.9 inches
''No Smoking" (Assouline), by Luc Sante, uses hundreds of photographs to make the case that a visual history of our culture is impossible without including cigarettes, cigars, and pipes. Although the US Post Office may digitally remove those items from the mouths of iconic American artists like blues musician Robert Johnson and painter Jackson Pollock when depicting them on stamps, Sante's book proves that erasing smoking from the real cultural record isn't so easy. While Sante, a photography critic and the author of ''Low Life: Lures and Snares of Old New York," doesn't gloss over the dangers of smoking, he laments the ''terribly sad" fact that ''you can't enjoy a smoke now and again without tumbling into the whirlpool of perdition." The enjoyment evident in his book demonstrates that whether they were on the road to hell or not, the people who created the culture on which ours rests smoked like fiends.
Aided by tobacco, consoled by its accoutrements, they stare at us from the past and ask to be understood as smokers. Here are Miles Davis and Robert Mitchum, Carole Lombard and Marilyn Monroe, even Jack Lemmon and Jacques Tati, captured in shades of smoke. It's impossible to contemplate Jean Seberg from Godard's ''Breathless" (a smoker's title), or Peter Falk from Cassavetes' ''Husbands," without seeing that the world they came from would've been different without smoking. Subtract smoke from these portraits and something is lost. Call it the sublime (as Richard Klein did in his 1993 elegy ''Cigarettes Are Sublime") or call it self-destruction, without it the culture would have been other than it was. What will replace it? How can the banality of good health compete with ''Breathless"?
Luc Sante (born 1954 in Verviers, Belgium) is a writer and critic. He emigrated to the United States in the early 1960s. He attended Regis High School in Manhattan and Columbia University and since 1984 has been a full-time writer.
His books include Low Life (1991), Evidence (1992), The Factory of Facts (1998), Walker Evans (1999), and Kill All Your Darlings: Pieces 1990-2005 (2007). He co-edited, with the writer Melissa Holbrook Pierson, O. K. You Mugs: Writers on Movie Actors (1998), and translated and edited Félix Fénéon's Novels in Three Lines (2007) for the New York Review Books (NYRB) series.
Luc Sante is a frequent contributor to the New York Review of Books (where he worked first in the mailroom and then as assistant to Barbara Epstein), and has written about books, films, art, photography, and miscellaneous cultural phenomena for many other periodicals.
He received a Whiting Writer's Award in 1989, a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1992-93, a Literature Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 1997, and a Grammy, for album notes, in 1998 (Sante was one of the album note writers for the 1997 re-issue of the Anthology of American Folk Music). He lives in Ulster County, New York, and teaches writing and the history of photography at Bard College.
Book Description: Book is pristine; no flaws or blemishes; touched only once to check condition Presentation box has a small tear at hinge .