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Manny Farber

Manny Farber, Del Mar, California, ca. 1998. Photo: Patricia Patterson.

MANNY FARBER FIRST CAME TO MY ATTENTION by way of a book generically titled Movies, with a generic cover illustration of Bogie, George Raft, and suchlike tinted with cupcake dyes. Heaven knows why I even bothered to open it, but I immediately found myself reading such violently nongeneric sentences as “The movie’s color is that of caterpillar guts, and its 14-karat image is a duplicate of the retouched studio portraits that could be obtained in Journal Square, Jersey City, in 1945.” Or “Rita Tushingham’s sighting over a gun barrel at an amusement park (standard movie place for displaying types who are closer to the plow than the library card) does a broadly familiar comic arrangement of jaw muscle and eyebrow that has the gaiety and almost the size of a dinosaur bone.” Or “It’s a film which loves its body odor.” Yes, what I held was the cheapo 1971 paperback edition of Negative

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