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The Grand Surprise: The Journals of Leo Lerman
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The Grand Surprise: The Journals of Leo Lerman

3.76  ·  Rating Details  ·  37 Ratings  ·  11 Reviews
A remarkable life and voice emerge from the journals, letters, and memoirs of Leo Lerman: writer, critic, editor at Conde Nast, and man about town at the center of New York's artistic and social circles from the 1940s until his death in 1994.

Lerman's contributions to the world of the arts were large and varied: he wrote on theater, dance, music, art, books, and movies for
Hardcover, 688 pages
Published April 10th 2007 by Knopf
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(showing 1-30 of 103)
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Jun 29, 2015 Sketchbook rated it did not like it
A creepy and oogly little toad, Leo the Lerman made cert he knew everyone and would invite 50 or more celebs to each of his parties, in his walk-up -- on no budget and scant magazine salary. He always dined at the most "visible" eateries. Reading this gushy tome I realized he had to be a US (cultch) "plant" in the post W2 NYC arts world, reporting on what the artsies were thinking in those chaotic-creative years when Communism scented the atmosphere. He now drops his 2 cents.
Faith McLellan
Jan 19, 2013 Faith McLellan rated it liked it
Shelves: biography, new-york
I didn't read this cover to cover, but rather dipped in and out of it, scanning for names I recognized, parties I was interested in. There are Bloomsbury connections, and Leo went to Churchill's funeral--but of course! There's a good bit of Yiddishkeit, which is always interesting to me. And a big helping of a New York that seems to have vanished. Bittersweet.
Kimberly Davis
Jan 15, 2013 Kimberly Davis rated it liked it
Very dishy diaries of literary elite. Found stories about Garbo unsubstantiated, more third person gossip. Dietrich, who was Lermans friend, is a tragic figure who at her lifes end makes money by talking to pen pals who jerk off and send her $$$...!!!!! Loved the stories of his lifelong friend, Little T, Truman Capote.
David Steven
Nov 02, 2007 David Steven rated it really liked it
This is an upscale beach book for a gay man of a certain age with an opera subscription. Since I am a gay man of a certain age with an opera subscription, I loved it! Great portraits of Maria Callas and Marlene Dietrich.
Carol Greer
Jul 09, 2013 Carol Greer rated it really liked it
A brilliant book, best read in snatches rather than straight through. I ached for Lerman -- I wanted him to write his brilliant novel, to find peace in his personal life, to quiet his demons.

It's a book with a lot of gossip, and I'm sure that's why many pick it up, but it's much more than that. It's a book about Lerman's longing for connection -- with his parents, his friends, and his lovers -- and about his search for meaning.
Apr 04, 2011 Mindy rated it it was amazing
One of my favorite books of the last couple years. Somewhat like the Warhol Diaries of an earlier era. Leo knew everybody and anybody in NY fashion, art, publishing, opera etc. in his day. I think I ended up reading half a dozen other books about people and incidents mentioned here.
Mar 18, 2008 stacy rated it really liked it
stays close at hand - you can open this book to any page and dive into the gossipy, dishy world of Leo Lerman - it's a window into that glamorous NY life everyone moved here to live
Sep 10, 2012 Sam rated it it was amazing
If the entire book were just the photo of the author kissing Martha Graham in 1974, I would still give it a well-deserved 5 stars.
Sam Schulman
Jan 21, 2010 Sam Schulman rated it liked it
Really much more amusing and less obnoxious than I would ever have thought possible.
Jul 24, 2007 Ellen added it
Shelves: review
Read my review here:
Jan 11, 2008 Rebecca marked it as to-read
Shelves: nonfiction, biography
Revieved in New Yorker, looks extra interesting!
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