Carolyn Burke


No Regrets:
The Life of Edith Piaf
Piaf soirée with chanteuse Betty Roi at Cafe Tosca, San Francisco, 2012.
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cover of "No Regrets"The beloved French chanteuse comes to life in this enthralling definitive biography, which captures Piaf's charismatic appeal along with the time and place that gave rise to her remarkable career. Raised by turns in a brothel, a circus caravan, and a working-class Paris neighborhood, Piaf began singing on the city's streets, where she was discovered by a Champs-Élysées cabaret owner. She became a star almost overnight, seducing Paris's elite and the people of its slums in equal measure with her passionate, powerful voice. No Regrets explores her tumultuous love affairs and struggles with drugs, alcohol, and illness, while also bringing new dimensions to this iconic life based on previously unavailable sources. Piaf aided the Resistance effort in World War II, became a talented lyricist who wrote "La Vie en Rose" and other classics, and was an exacting mentor to younger singers and artists. Here is Piaf in her world — Paris in the first half of the twentieth century — and in our own, as Burke shows why her legacy has endured into our time.

Published 2011 by Knopf (U.S.) & Bloomsbury (U.K.); paperback 2012, Chicago Review Press. Translations: Spanish, Portuguese, Ukrainian; others forthcoming. Kindle; Nook.

cover of "No Regrets"A model and photographer, muse and reporter, sexual adventurer and domestic goddess, Lee Miller became the first female American war correspondent. In Lee Miller: A Life, Carolyn Burke reveals how the iconic 1920s beauty who inspired Man Ray, Cocteau, and Picasso could be the same person who unflinchingly photographed the horrors of Buchenwald and Dachau at the end of World War II. Burke explores both the verve and the contradictions behind Miller's life, from her early childhood trauma to her stint as a Vogue model, from her harrowing years as a war correspondent to her unconventional marriage and passion for gourmet cooking. A lavishly illustrated story of art and love, sex and power, Modernism and Surrealism – and the first full-length biography of its subject – Lee Miller illuminates an extraordinary woman's journey from art object to artist.

Published 2005 by Knopf (U.S.) & Bloomsbury (U.K.). French translation: Autrement, 2007. Kindle; Nook.

Becoming Modern:
The Life of Mina Loy

cover of "No Regrets"The name Mina Loy opens the door to an era of spirited exchanges between American and Continental vanguards. It conjures up art classes in Montparnasse, costume balls at Mabel Dodge's villa, Futurist soirées, Dadaesque poetry readings, visits with Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas, dinners in Brancusi's studio — all scenes that reveal the shapes of the modernist imagination. Her life, that of a woman responsive to the social and artistic movements of her time, allows us to look more deeply into the self constructing strategies of the international avant-garde. But Mina Loy also saw herself as a cartographer of the imagination. This biography follows her on voyages of many kinds, tracing her development from a London childhood in the 1880s to art studies in fin-de-siècle Munich and Paris, the Florence of Futurism, and New York in the days of Dada, to Mexico and postwar Europe, then back to the United States, where she spent the rest of her life. Her transits describe not linear progress but a series of motions like the epicycles on the celestial maps in which she sought inspiration— travel as an elliptical form of quest.

Published 1996 by Farrar, Straus & Giroux. Kindle; Paperback 2007 by University of California Press; Nook.