The Kindness of Strangers

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Product Details

Price
$18.95
Publisher
New York Review of Books
Publish Date
Pages
368
Dimensions
5.2 X 1.0 X 7.9 inches | 0.85 pounds
Language
English
Type
Paperback
EAN/UPC
9781681372747

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About the Author

Salka Viertel (1889-1978) was born Salomea Sara Steuermann in Galicia, then part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. In the late 1920s, Salka and her husband, Berthold Viertel, left Berlin for Hollywood, where Berthold wrote screenplays and directed films and Salka began acting in motion pictures. There, she befriended Greta Garbo on the set of Anna Christie and co-wrote screenplays for many films. During World War II, the Viertels started a salon in their home for other émigrés. In 1942, Salka was put on an FBI watch list and later her salon was dissolved under the inquisition of the Hollywood film industry. After the war, she returned to Europe where she lived until the end of her life.

Lawrence Weschler, the grandson of the eminent Viennese-born Weimar-era emigre (and Hollywood) composer Ernst Toch, has written several celebrated works of of literary nonfiction, including Vermeer in Bosnia, Mr. Wilson's Cabinet of Wonder, and Seeing is Forgetting the Name of the Thing of One Sees. He was a staff writer at The New Yorker for over twenty years and is a contributing editor to McSweeney's, The Threepenny Review, and The Virginia Quarterly Review. The recipient of a Lannan Literary Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award for Criticism, he recently retired as director of the New York Institute for the Humanities at New York University. He is currently completing a biographical memoir of Oliver Sacks.

Reviews

"Thank goodness Greta Garbo encouraged her confidante Salka Viertel to write. With cameos by Kafka, Sarah Bern-hardt, Eisenstein, Isherwood, and many others, Viertel's memoir is humane, lightly ironic, and dizzyingly enter-taining. It's a portrait of two lost worlds--the pre--Hitler German--speaking stage and the pre--CGI Hollywood--as well as the story of an actress and screenwriter who all her life was bold in love and passionate for the arts." --Caleb Crain


"Salka ends her book with a phrase about her 'incorrigible heart.' It is this quality which sustains and ennobles all the artistic, intellectual, social and political events which her book narrates. It gives us a sense of what it is to be a true person. Without that core of warm humanity all the rest would be vanity." --Harold Clurman, The Nation

"From early childhood in the Polish Ukrainian sector of Austria-Hungary through her experiences in the German theater and Hollywood, Mrs. Viertel shares a full life, candidly and rewardingly."--Kirkus Reviews

"Salka is forgotten today. Biographies have been written about her 'genius' husband Berthold, but Salka appears only as footnote in works about Greta Garbo. She deserves better, and her extraordinary story should to be read today by anyone interested in the German exile experience."--Dialog International