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Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Michener's the Name by Robert Vavra

A chance to get to know a bit of Michener's personality

Published in 2007 by University Press of Colorado
208 pages.

I am a huge fan of Michener's sweeping epics. Some look at those gigantic books as drudgery, but that is only because they have not opened one up and read it. I've read all but two - I own them but I'm saving them back like a wine connisseur would save back a couple of his favorites. I know these books will be great and I know that once I read them there will be no more new Micheners for me.

James Michener (1907-1997)
Vavra's book focuses on their mutual interest in Spain and Spanish culture, especially bullfighting, Spanish dance and the Spanish countryside. Vavra met several famous authors, actors and personalities while in Spain in the 1960s. He mentions them, but it rarely acquires the character of a name-dropping book. Mostly, he uses those others as a point of comparison to Michener, and Michener comes off very well in the comparison. Never flashy, sometimes socially awkward, oftentimes astute, Michener is a friend to great and small alike. He seems to have been able to keep his head despite the fame and fortune. Perhaps that is because, unlike Hemingway, Michener never sought the limelight. He did not shrink from it, but he did not seek it.

Two-thirds of the book consists of Vavra's black and white photographs of Spain and/or Michener. This is appropriate considering that Vavra is an internationally famous photographer. The text is just as strong as the pictures, just surprisingly short. But, then again, maybe not. After all, this book is not intended to be a complete biography of Michener. Rather, it is the collected remembrances of one of his friends and the good times they had together.

I rate this book 4 stars out of 5.

This book can be found on Amazon.com here: Michener's the Name.

Reviewed on April 18, 2007.

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