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Vanished Act: The Life and Art of Weldon Kees
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Vanished Act: The Life and Art of Weldon Kees

4.07  ·  Rating Details ·  30 Ratings  ·  9 Reviews
Critic, novelist, filmmaker, jazz musician, painter, and, above all, poet, Weldon Kees performed, practiced, and published with the best of his generation of artists—the so-called middle generation, which included Robert Lowell, Elizabeth Bishop, and John Berryman. His dramatic disappearance (a probable suicide) at the age of forty-one, his movie-star good looks, his role ...more
Paperback, 420 pages
Published March 1st 2007 by Bison Books (first published June 1st 2003)
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Jun 12, 2008 lisa_emily rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: escapists
Kees will always be one of those people who will become more intriguing as time passes. Partially as a result of his diversity: he painted, wrote, filmed, and even composed songs. Reidel does a pretty thorough job of tracing Kees' emergence as a writer out of Nebraska to his fluid movement within the New York art circles of the late 40s and his final stop in San Francisco. And everywhere, you can sense Kees' discontent and restlessness, even in his removed marriage his college sweetheart, Ann ...more
Jim Cherry
Oct 29, 2009 Jim Cherry rated it really liked it
Weldon Kees was a man out of time. He was born between the two great literary generations of the 20th century but it seemed he didn’t fit into either one. A man of many talents, his writing was widely known in New York publishing circles, his poems were published in the New Yorker magazine, and his first book of poems, The Last Man, received critical recognition. His paintings were recognized as being in the same league as Jackson Pollock, they were hung in the same galleries and at some of the ...more
Tony Gualtieri
Dec 03, 2013 Tony Gualtieri rated it it was amazing
This is one of the saddest books I've ever read. Weldon Kees' life is dominated by the melancholy that infuses his poetry. One of his best poems, "Robinson," describes an empty apartment inhabited by a man whose life seems equally empty:

The mirror from Mexico, stuck to the wall,
Reflects nothing at all. The glass is black.
Robinson alone provides the image Robinsonian.

While Kees is no Robinson, his life traces a pattern of detachment and disappointment that ends with his suicide on the Golden Gate
Aug 02, 2011 Jon added it
This biography, the only full-length one of Kees, has its share of omissions (Kees' wife Ann is slighted, and her family even more so), editorial errors (at one point the writer Nigel Dennis is referred to when the actor Nigel Bruce is meant), questionable critiques (Reidel's comments on Kees' work, especially his short stories, are sometimes annoyingly reductive) and general sloppiness (Reidel repeatedly refers to Kees' story "I Should Worry" by its working title, "Light Before Darkness", but ...more
Cooper Renner
Apr 05, 2015 Cooper Renner rated it it was amazing
First rate biography of the poet, fiction writer, musician and photographer/film-maker Weldon Kees who vanished in 1955--either via a leap from the Golden Gate Bridge or an escape into a new life (in Mexico?). Kees published in "name" places of the time--New Yorker, Poetry, Prairie Schooner, Partisan Review; he knew many of the "name" writers and artists of the time; he spent time at Yadoo--and yet within a couple of years of his death he was virtually forgotten, a situation which Donald ...more
Patrick Carraher
Jun 07, 2013 Patrick Carraher rated it it was ok
I recently became interested in Weldon Kees--the author, poet, painter, critic, and producer, from Beatrice, NE who disappeared in about 1955. This book certainly provides a lot of information about Kees. However, I don't think it is meant to be an entertaining biography. Rather, it reads like a report--an almost week-by-week report of Kees' life. If you want to read an entertaining biography, this is not the book for you. But if you want to learn as much as possible about the life and times of ...more
Sep 03, 2015 Margaret rated it it was amazing
Shelves: biography-memoir
Weldon Kees is not a widely known poet but his work is singular and interesting. His disappearance, probably a suicide, is strange and disturbing. I highly recommend this biography if you want to learn about a fascinating, jazz-loving poet and artist.
Aug 17, 2008 Tosh marked it as to-read
The great Kevin Killian gave this a very large rave on Amazon for this bio of a troubled but what seems to be a super talented nova of an artist, writer, poet, songwriter, and filmmaker. I just recently discovered this figure by our Ginnie here at Goodreads. I must get and read!
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