The first definitive biography of Weegee the Famous—photographer, psychic, fiend—from Christoper Bonanos, author of Instant: The Story of Polaroid.
Arthur Fellig’s ability to arrive at a crime scene just as the cops did was so uncanny that he renamed himself “Weegee,” claiming that he functioned as a human Ouija board. Weegee documented better than any other photographer the crime, grit, and complex humanity of midcentury New York City. In Flash, we get a portrait not only of the man (both flawed and deeply talented, with generous appetites for publicity, women, and hot pastrami) but also of the fascinating time and place that he occupied.
From self-taught immigrant kid to newshound to art-world darling to latter-day caricature—moving from the dangerous streets of New York City to the celebrity culture of Los Angeles and then to Europe for a quixotic late phase of experimental photography and filmmaking—Weegee lived a life just as worthy of documentation as the scenes he captured. With Flash, we have an unprecedented and ultimately moving view of the man now regarded as an innovator and a pioneer, an artist as well as a newsman, whose photographs are among most powerful images of urban existence ever made.
Library Journal Best Books of the Year, National Book Critics Circle Award - Nominee, National Book Critics Circle Award - Winner
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Praise for Flash: The Making of Weegee the Famous
"Flash is a crackling portrait of a man and his era—as immediate and as alive as Weegee's pictures themselves. Chris Bonanos vivifies not only his subject, but the long lost New York that he lived in, and that made him."
—Daniel Okrent, New York Times bestselling author of Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition
“Weegee, in addition to being one of the greatest photographers ever, was a cartoon character and something of a living myth. This has confused perception for the better part of eighty years. Christopher Bonanos's nuanced and sympathetic account succeeds in merging those three aspects—not only was a lot of the bluster for real, but even the pure baloney was hard-won and contextually grounded. His is a sweet and melancholy book and a doorway into a mostly misremembered past.”
—Luc Sante, author of Low Life: Lures and Snares of Old New York
"[T]he charismatic Weegee takes the listener on a thrill ride." -AudioFile