New Books: Frank Lloyd Wright Bio “Plagued By Fire” By Paul Hendrickson

From a Wall Street Journal online review:

Plagued by Fire Paul HendrickonWhereas most Wright biographies build from one structure to the next, this one caroms from one digression to the next. Mr. Hendrickson spins miniature biographies of the people who commissioned Wright to build their homes and office buildings. An array of midcentury figures appears: e.g., Glenway Wescott, the novelist and poet who rubbed shoulders with Gertrude Stein in Paris and whose sister commissioned one of Wright’s homes; and Clarence Darrow, the renowned lawyer, who waded into the murk of Wright’s personal life when a disgruntled housekeeper attempted to use the Mann Act to have Wright arrested. We also meet the little-known residents of various structures. Seth Peterson, for instance, dreamed of living in a Wright home so powerfully that he camped out in the one he commissioned as it was being built. 

Even when you grant how exposed to the elements an architect’s work may be, Frank Lloyd Wright appears to have been an insurer’s nightmare. If a building could shake, burn or flood, time and again Wright’s structures did. Like the exquisite Rose Pauson House in Phoenix, which lasted a mere year before succumbing to fire. Or the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo, with its gorgeous H-shaped guest wing, rocked by an earthquake on the day it opened. The Johnson Wax building in Racine, Wis., was so porous that office staff were known to keep buckets by their desk on rainy days.

To read more: https://www.wsj.com/articles/plagued-by-fire-review-the-spirit-in-the-form-11570806240?mod=ig_booksoctober12

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