Thursday, April 10, 2014

I is for Isadora Duncan

Isadora Duncan became my I-is-for-Idol when I was ten years old and read a Reader's Digest condensed version of her biography that summer in Anaheim, California. I was staying at my grandmother's house for a month, and we were so close to Disneyland I could see the Matterhorn from the end of her street. 

My grandmother also had a swimming pool, and every day I pretty much followed the same routine: cinnamon toast for breakfast, swim, baloney and mustard sandwiches for lunch, read, swim, dinner (usually tacos or burgers), read, swim, read. I was in heaven! (I also hadn't become a vegetarian yet.) I lived in my bathing suit and read and ate outside next to the pool. I also remember some bad sunburn because my grandmother's favorite suntan lotion was olive oil, LOL! We were cooked to bruschetta on a daily basis.

However, it was Isadora Duncan who really stood out for me in between swimming sessions. I'm sure I didn't understand very much at the time about her complicated love life, or how truly innovative her contribution to the art and dance world was. But I did know she was different and interesting, and I continued my fascination with her life well into adulthood. Which is why my husband surprised me one Christmas with a book so beautiful it's really a piece of art rather than reading material.

Isadora Duncan with Art Deco Sculptures by Chiparus, Preiss, and Others published by Franco Maria Ricci with text by Alberto Savinio is so special that rather than a dust jacket, it rests in its own black silk-covered box. The oversize pale indigo-blue pages are of handmade paper from Milan, and the Art Deco photographs of rare and decorative dance sculptures are first-class. My copy is one of a limited edition, and half the time I don't read it because I'm afraid of ruining it somehow.

And that's a shame because it's a book worth reading whenever possible. Unlike most biographies, the section on Duncan's life history is written in a literary and poetic style. The sections describing the artwork are equally entertaining, making this a very special and unique keeper. Best of all, it inspired one of the characters in my current WIP, The Abyssal Plain. Now to just be able to afford some of those Art Deco sculptures for my living room.


M. J. Joachim said...

I've got a few treasured old books I'm afraid to read too. You're right. It is a shame.

M. J. Joachim

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Valerie Storey said...

Thank you so much for visiting! Perhaps the secret is to wear gloves, LOL!