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The Factory of Facts

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Paperback published by Vintage (Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group)

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About This Book
The acclaimed author of Low Life reinvents the memoir in a cunning, lyrical book that is at once a personal history and a meditation on the construction of identity.

Born in Belgium but raised in New Jersey, Luc Sante transformed himself from a pious, timid Belgian boy into a loutish American adolescent, who eschewed French while fantasizing about the pop star Françoise Hardy. To show how this transformation came about--and why it remained incomplete--The Factory of Facts  combines family anecdote and ancestral legend; detailed forays into Belgian history, language, and religion; and deft synopses of the American character.


From the Trade Paperback edition.
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The acclaimed author of Low Life reinvents the memoir in a cunning, lyrical book that is at once a personal history and a meditation on the construction of identity.

Born in Belgium but raised in New Jersey, Luc Sante transformed himself from a pious, timid Belgian boy into a loutish American adolescent, who eschewed French while fantasizing about the pop star Françoise Hardy. To show how this transformation came about--and why it remained incomplete--The Factory of Facts  combines family anecdote and ancestral legend; detailed forays into Belgian history, language, and religion; and deft synopses of the American character.


From the Trade Paperback edition.
Product Details
Paperback (320 pages)
Published: March 30, 1999
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Imprint: Vintage
ISBN: 9780679746508
Other books byLuc Sante
  • Low Life

    Low Life
    Lures and Snares of Old New York
    Luc Sante's Low Life is a portrait of America's greatest city, the riotous and anarchic breeding ground of modernity. This is not the familiar saga of mansions, avenues, and robber barons, but the messy, turbulent, often murderous story of the city's slums; the teeming streets--scene of innumerable cons and crimes whose cramped and overcrowded housing is still a prominent feature of the cityscape. Low Life voyages through Manhattan from four different directions. Part One examines the actual topography of Manhattan from 1840 to 1919; Part Two, the era's opportunities for vice and entertainment--theaters and saloons, opium and cocaine dens, gambling and prostitution; Part Three investigates the forces of law and order which did and didn't work to contain the illegalities; Part Four counterposes the city's tides of revolt and idealism against the city as it actually was. Low Life provides an arresting and entertaining view of what New York was actually like in its salad days. But it's more than simpy a book about New York. It's one of the most provocative books about urban life ever written--an evocation of the mythology of the quintessential modern metropplois, which has much to say not only about New York's past but about the present and future of all cities.

    Kill All Your Darlings

    Kill All Your Darlings
    Pieces 1990-2005
    In his books and in a string of wide-ranging and inventive essays, Luc Sante has shown himself to be not only one of our pre-eminent stylists, but also a critic of uncommon power and range. He is “one of the handful of living masters of the American language, as well as a singular historian and philosopher of American experience,” says the New Yorker’s Peter Schjeldahl. Kill All Your Darlings is the first collection of Sante’s articles—many of which first appeared in the New York Review of Books and the Village Voice—and offers ample justification for such high praise. Sante is best known for his groundbreaking work in urban history (Low Life), and for a particularly penetrating form of autobiography (The Factory of Facts). These subjects are also reflected in several essays here, but it is the author’s intense and scrupulous writing about music, painting, photography, and poetry that takes center stage. Alongside meditations on cigarettes, factory work, and hipness, and his critical tour de force, “The Invention of the Blues,” Sante offers his incomparable take on icons from Arthur Rimbaud to Bob Dylan, René Magritte to Tintin, Buddy Bolden to Walker Evans, Allen Ginsberg to Robert Mapplethorpe.

    Folk Photography

    Folk Photography
    The American Real-Photo Postcard, 1905–1930
    In rural America at the beginning of the twentieth century, the worldwide postcard craze coincided with the spread of light, cheap photographic equipment. The result was the real-photo postcard, so-called because the cards were printed in darkrooms rather than on litho presses, usually in editions of a hundred or fewer, the work of amateurs and professionals alike. They were not intended for tourists, but as a medium of communication for the residents of small towns, isolated on the plains and in the hills. The cards document everything about their time and place, from intimate matters to events that qualified as news. They show people from every walk of life and the whole panorama of human activity: eating, sleeping, labor, worship, animal husbandry, amateur theatrics, barn-raising, spirit-rapping, dissolution, riot, disaster, death. Uncountable millions of them were made in the peak years, 1905 to 1912. Previous books on the subject have been content to dwell on the nostalgia value of the images. This book takes a broader and deeper view. The 122 postcards it reproduces cover the vast range of subjects encompassed by the medium—sometimes lyrical and sometimes bracingly harsh—while Luc Sante’s pathbreaking introductory essay places them in their full historical and artistic context. Sante argues that the cards were a medium of expression very much like the folk music being made in the same places at the same time—open to the complete and unvarnished experience of life, and enacting tradition even as they embody modernity. Besides that, he demonstrates that they represent a crucial stage in the evolution of photography, as the essential link between the plain style of the Civil War photographers and the vision of the great midcentury documentarians, Walker Evans above all. Combining his gifts as a chronicler of early twentieth-century America, a historian of photography, and a clear-eyed and eloquent critic, Sante shows how the postcards’ “vast, teeming, borderless body of work” add up to a “self-portrait of the American nation.”

    Looking In

    Looking In
    Robert Frank's the Americans
    First published in France in 1958, then in the United States in 1959, Robert Frank's The Americans changed the course of twentieth-century photography. In 83 photographs, Frank looked beneath the surface of American life to reveal a people plagued by racism, ill-served by their politicians and rendered numb by a rapidly expanding culture of consumption. Yet he also found novel areas of beauty in simple, overlooked corners of American life. And it was not just his subject matter--cars, jukeboxes and even the road itself--that redefined the icons of America; it was also his seemingly intuitive, immediate, off-kilter style, as well as his method of brilliantly linking his photographs together thematically, conceptually, formally and linguistically, that made The Americans so innovative. More of an ode or a poem than a literal document, the book is as powerful and provocative today as it was 50 years ago. Published to accompany a major exhibition at the National Gallery of Art, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Looking In: Robert Frank's "The Americans" celebrates the fiftieth anniversary of this prescient book. Drawing on newly examined archival sources, it provides a fascinating in-depth examination of the making of the photographs and the book's construction, using vintage contact sheets, work prints and letters that literally chart Frank's journey around the country on a Guggenheim grant in 1955-1956. Curator and editor Sarah Greenough and her colleagues also explore the roots of The Americans in Frank's earlier books, which are abundantly illustrated here, and in books by photographers Walker Evans, Bill Brandt and others. The 83 original photographs from The Americans are presented in sequence in as near vintage prints as possible. The catalogue concludes with an examination of Frank's later reinterpretations and deconstructions of The Americans, bringing full circle the history of this resounding entry in the annals of photography. This richly illustrated paperback edition of Looking In: Robert Frank's "The Americans" contains several engaging essays by curator Sarah Greenough that explore the roots of this seminal book, Frank's travels on a Guggenheim fellowship, the sequencing of The Americans and the book's impact on his later career. In addition, essays by Anne Wilkes Tucker, Stuart Alexander, Martin Gasser, Jeff L. Rosenheim, Michel Frizot and Luc Sante offer focused analyses of Frank's relationship with Louis Faurer, Edward Steichen, Gotthard Schuh, Walker Evans, Robert Delpire and Jack Kerouac, while Philip Brookman writes about his work with Frank on several exhibitions in the last 30 years. This paperback edition also reproduces many of Frank's earlier photographic sequences, as well as all of the photographs in The Americans and selected later works.

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