Megan Harlan
March 03, 2000 AT 05:00 AM EST

Bruce Chatwin: A Biography

type
Book
Current Status
In Season
author
Nicholas Shakespeare
publisher
Doubleday
genre
Biography, Nonfiction

We gave it an A

Thanks to his exotic Indiana Jones-style adventures, English travel writer Bruce Chatwin has been a cult figure since his 1977 classic In Patagonia — though his resemblance to Sting probably didn’t hurt. But while Chatwin portrayed himself in his shimmering writings as a nomadic loner living on a string, he was in fact married to an American heiress, had countless affairs with men and women (Susan Sontag noted that ”he slept with everyone, once”), and boasted ”a crowded address book where Jackie Onassis is listed next to an Oryx herder.” Novelist Nicholas Shakespeare’s engrossing Bruce Chatwin: A Biography — ending with Chatwin’s AIDS-related death at age 48 in 1989 — does exactly what Chatwin’s fans have longed to do: get beneath the alluring but elusive quality of his persona and prose. A

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