EDIE – Jean Stein, George Plimpton

Edie (1982) tells its biography by interviews with friends, acquaintances and business associates of Edie Sedgwick. She is from a wealthy family with roots long into New England, although her parents – heretics, black sheep, apostates – moved to California where Edie was raised and where easy money was made in real estate. The East Coast contacts remained. George Plimpton’s parents were friends of the Sedgwicks.

As a biography Edie doesn’t tell much about the girl, young woman, woman. She has no voice except bits of dialogue from an Andy Warhol movie staring Edie, Ciao! Manhattan. Edie had no education, no writings, no letters, nothing other than being an earlier version of Paris Hilton, letting others document, dissect and distort her life. With friends and acquaintances like the ones interviewed, she was a throw away person. The book slaps together small talk from persons with no interest or with vague recollections of Edie: I was at this party or this place. Edie was standing in a corner with Andy Warhol. What do you remember Andy? I was there and Edie stood next to me because she was afraid and didn’t have anyone else to stand next to. It is no wonder that Edie died of a drug overdose at 28 years, the end chapters of the book. Next comes the philosophical imponderables: Did anyone see it coming? What happened? Was it suicide or accidental?

Edie is 428 pages long, and obviously published because big name people were involved. No one wanted to memorialize or tell about Edie except for a buck: Do a little genealogy about the family and make money from Edie’s existence. Nobody else will. What better tribute could be made to a girl who never made womanhood in her mind, who hung around and was tolerated because her family knew big people and they had contacts. Toss in a couple of topless photos and one fully nude (can’t see pores), and it’s a best seller. She won’t care. She wasn’t modest in life. She’s dead. Rest in peace. 

Edie is empty, crass and cheap. It has been identified as a book about the Sixties; it is not. Edie didn’t go up the river from where she was living in New York City to Woodstock! Edie is emblematic of the long time state of American publishing houses – slap together something to sensationalize to sell shi-. Promote names of undeserving, poor writers – they’re the bunch, our bunch that we can sell like laundry detergent.

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