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I might simply say that The Kindness of Strangers is the best book I ve ever read about Hollywood, but Salka Viertel s memoir is much bigger than that The author was born in the 19th Century in what is now Ukraine, but the borders have changed a lot over the years.The memoir covers Viertel s childhood, and her career as a stage actress in Europe up until 1928, when her husband was offered work as a writer in Hollywood The story is about Hollywood, war, family, hospitality, generosity, and life I might simply say that The Kindness of Strangers is the best book I ve ever read about Hollywood, but Salka Viertel s memoir is much bigger than that The author was born in the 19th Century in what is now Ukraine, but the borders have changed a lot over the years.The memoir covers Viertel s childhood, and her career as a stage actress in Europe up until 1928, when her husband was offered work as a writer in Hollywood The story is about Hollywood, war, family, hospitality, generosity, and life Everybody, from Louis B Mayer, to Greta Garbo, to Albert Einstein, is in it.I ve been glued to The Kindness of Strangers for over a week, and I can t say enough about it Salka Viertel uses the phrase from the Tennessee Williams play A Streetcar Named Desire because she felt she d always experienced exactly that wherever she lived and worked Raised in a prominent family in what s now Ukraine, Viertel was an actress on the Austrian and German stage beginning just prior to WWI She married the writer director Berthold Viertel in 1918 Her story of the marriage s early years is the story of their lives in the theater of Berlin, Prague, and Vienna Kafka, Alban Berg Salka Viertel uses the phrase from the Tennessee Williams play A Streetcar Named Desire because she felt she d always experienced exactly that wherever she lived and worked Raised in a prominent family in what s now Ukraine, Viertel was an actress on the Austrian and German stage beginning just prior to WWI She married the writer director Berthold Viertel in 1918 Her story of the marriage s early years is the story of their lives in the theater of Berlin, Prague, and Vienna Kafka, Alban Berg, Robert Musil, Rilke, Schoenberg, and Einstein drifted through their lives during the 1920s and were exposed to Salka s powers of observation.Berthold came under contract to the American production company Fox Film in 1928 They moved to Hollywood, and this major shift in milieu from the European stage to American films is the great seam in the book dividing Salka s life into European and American halves She brought her European sensibilities to California to meet the sensibilities of many others who d gotten away from continental politics, particularly those in Germany The books s perceptive of that Hollywood and informative about what it was like to work there in the 30s and 40s, but it s equally about the Europeans who were so successful and influential there Bertolt Brecht goes in and out of the story many times Charlie Chaplin, Thomas and Heinrich Mann were there, and so was Christopher Isherwood They were all close to her but not as close as the one who was perhaps her greatest friend, Greta Garbo Salka s house at that time was one of the channels for the flow of European theatrical art as expressed in the brash film industry of America It was only near the end of her career as a screenwriter that she found all strangers aren t kind A chance remark in a production meeting caused her to run aground on the rocks of McCarthy era communist hunting bureaucrats She was blackballed and had to once again reach deep into the well of her resourcefulness to clear herself.Though not a huge fan of autobiography, I thoroughly enjoyed this book Its prose is perhaps a bit strudel fed, but it s always interesting Jan 2019 NYRB Selection I really don t know much about Greta Garbo I know the gossip of her lesbianism or bisexuality I enjoyed Queen Christiana and I few other movies Like Marlene Dietrich in many ways it was what she did doing the years of World War II that weren t movies that were farinteresting So, the name Salka Viertel didn t ring any bells Viertel was a very close friend of Garbo s, but she was also a screenwriter, working on quite few Garbo movies in fact, their creative Jan 2019 NYRB Selection I really don t know much about Greta Garbo I know the gossip of her lesbianism or bisexuality I enjoyed Queen Christiana and I few other movies Like Marlene Dietrich in many ways it was what she did doing the years of World War II that weren t movies that were farinteresting So, the name Salka Viertel didn t ring any bells Viertel was a very close friend of Garbo s, but she was also a screenwriter, working on quite few Garbo movies in fact, their creative collaboration seems to have started with Queen Christian, mostly because both women found the queen fascinating Viertel was born in Sambor which at the time of her birth was part of the Austro Hungary empire She was Jewish and lived to see both World Wars She worked first as an actress until a journey to America, where she and her husband went to work in the film industry The selling point that seems to be used for the book is whom she knows in Hollywood There are stories about various Hollywood stars, and Viertel seems to have known a great many people, including various family writers, such as the Manns The most interesting aspects of the memoir are not the stories of people you ve heard of, but of the personal side Viertel, for instance, writes about what today we would call post partum depression There are passages about relationships Not much about Garbo The friendship takes a back seat in the memoir At times there is a frustrating vagueness that could be eased with some footnotes such as the tragedy that is used in reference to her relationship with her niece Yet, it is a very modern memoir that gives insight to times of the past If you feel like reading the quintessential twentieth century autobiography, then this is it You just have to read The Kindness of Strangers by Salka Viertel It is everything I expect from an autobiography and it delivers down to the last page Viertel s life was not only interesting but also lived variedly and maybe that s the reason the book shines the way it does It is almost a pilgrimage of one woman through the twentieth century s darkest times and also a chronicle of the good times I c If you feel like reading the quintessential twentieth century autobiography, then this is it You just have to read The Kindness of Strangers by Salka Viertel It is everything I expect from an autobiography and it delivers down to the last page Viertel s life was not only interesting but also lived variedly and maybe that s the reason the book shines the way it does It is almost a pilgrimage of one woman through the twentieth century s darkest times and also a chronicle of the good times I could easily classify The Kindness of Strangers as an epic read, mainly because of its sheer expanse.The Kindness of Strangers is the journey of a woman It is the journey of a century all rolled into one from a province in the Austro Hungarian empire to Hollywood Viertel s book is unique in the sense that it doesn t try and pack everything in one chapter or paragraph It takes its time talking about people, events, and their impact Normally, I have observed myself getting bored of such autobiographies that start right from childhood and unfold against a backdrop of larger events That wasn t the case with The Kindness of Strangers I enjoyed the read and that of course had a lot to do with the writing Of course this isn t an easy read, in the sense of the turn of events from the First World War to the Second and incidents that are recalled from memory, Salka Viertel s writing is too detailed Sometimes that works wonders for the reader and sometimes it is too much trivia However, it made me think about how should an autobiography be written at all then Is there a template Should there be one I don t think so though The Kindness of Strangers as any good autobiography merges the personal and political perfectly For instance, her concern over her children s safety during WWII or her time as an actress in Europe to her time in Hollywood and how that merged with political opinions of many is a delight to read There is a lot going on in the book and I was only too glad to see timelines so as not to miss the drift of what is being said I had no clue of who Viertel was till I started reading her memoir The relationship with her parents, the rebellion, the relationship she shared with her sister Rose, and most importantly leading the life she wanted to The sense of loss of innocence is spread throughout the book Nostalgia plays such an important role not only in its conjuring but also it feels like it is not a thing of the past at all My favourite part of the memoir is Salka s later life, spent in America, where she worked in Hollywood, made friends with Greta Garbo, became an American citizen as well, and helped many artists find homes the ones who escaped Hitler s clutches so to say There are these lost worlds constantly at play of which the reader is privy to The writing while gives a sense of staying on some details a little longer, still feels hurried I wish for some parts there wasThe Kindness of Strangers is full of life and joy It is also full of instances that demand attention and empathy It is the kind of book that talks about relationships the constancy of them and the passing on of most Ultimately, it is the book that makes us see our follies as humans and also the kindness we are ultimately capable of which sometimes we do not know of ourselves I found out that Berthold s wife had written her autobiography via the rather awful scandalous book, Sappho in Hollywood But reading that was worth it to have found this It was a fascinating book covering so much of early 20th century history It started a little slowly with her being a young aspiring actress falling in love with various older, married men But once the first world war broke out I was hooked It was such an insightful and personal look at life during the first half of the 20th I found out that Berthold s wife had written her autobiography via the rather awful scandalous book, Sappho in Hollywood But reading that was worth it to have found this It was a fascinating book covering so much of early 20th century history It started a little slowly with her being a young aspiring actress falling in love with various older, married men But once the first world war broke out I was hooked It was such an insightful and personal look at life during the first half of the 20th century Salka s family were wealither, sectarian Jews, but it was fascinating to see how being Jewish in Germany affected her and her husband so much There were grim accounts of the first world war Particuarly stiring accounts of the hyper inflation and the problems it caused One part where she was taking the train with her young sons and wasn t able to continue her journey as the money she d left with wasn t enough to buy a ticket to continue their journey and someone had to buy a 3rd class tickets and peasants shared their food with her.In contrast to this was her life in Hollywood, She moved there in the early 30s when her husband had been offered film work He ended up not staying long in Hollywood, but Salka became a script writer for Hollywood She became friends with Greta Garbo and wrote scripts for her She was making the huge sum of 1000 a week, most of which she spent helping friends and relatives who were stuck in Europe, vast sums went to help her mother get out of Russia once war broke out After the war she became active in the civil rights movement, offering her spare room to an inter racial couple She met Beatrix, who her husband was living with at that point all quite amicably , and the two got on really well It was very refreshing to read about people who were born at the turn of the 20th century who had such modern views towards marriage and relationships They all seemed like people I would totally hang out with Now I wish my German was better so I could read, Ich liebe dich F r immer Greta Garbo und Salka Viertel by Nicole Nottelmann In the biography Salka mentions the men she was having affairs with, but with Greta there wasn t a hint any romance in her autobiography Though knowing her husband was having an affair with another notorious bisexual I wouldn t be terribly surprised if it was true Epic memoir of a screenwriter mostly at and for MGM during the golden era of Hollywood, as well as being with the great European intellectuals of the 20th century Sort of the roots or foundation for parts of City of Nets. January 2019 NYRB Book Club SelectionFor the first 200 pages or so, I was enjoying Viertel s memoir but felt she relied far too heavily on name dropping I care very little for old Hollywood and know absolutely nothing about European theater of the early 20th century, so many of the names fell on deaf ears Granted, this isa statement of where I m coming from than a criticism, and I ll admit that some of the names and the startling connections between Hollywood and Viertel to almost every January 2019 NYRB Book Club SelectionFor the first 200 pages or so, I was enjoying Viertel s memoir but felt she relied far too heavily on name dropping I care very little for old Hollywood and know absolutely nothing about European theater of the early 20th century, so many of the names fell on deaf ears Granted, this isa statement of where I m coming from than a criticism, and I ll admit that some of the names and the startling connections between Hollywood and Viertel to almost every luminary of the early 20th century, film or literary, is often surprising and exceedingly interesting to explore It s also a testament to just how closely Viertel maintained her diaries Ultimately, however, she won me over, not with her connection to celebrities I know nothing of Greta Garbo, so that connection is meaningless to me, and I don t care to speculate as to the nature of the relationship between the two , but with her descriptions of both the working world of a Hollywood studio decidedly unglamorous and resulting inthan a number of shelved projects and the human interest of a life lived across continents and connected to so many others There are a numbers of sections that especially stick with me her phone only relationship with her Western Union telegram reader, the anecdote of Norman, a young worker who went head to head with Aldous Huxley at a dinner, and,than anything else, the absolute beauty of the last couple pages and her meeting with her first granddaughter At the time of the writing as described by the afterword , she already knew that the happiness found at the conclusion of this memoir after which she would live 24years would be fleeting, but in the moment, her overwhelming joy does not fail to touch me the last line is perfect Brilliant, detailed, invigorating I was not unhappy I was exhausted, impatient, frustrated, often desperate, overworked but my life still had moments of joy, of sensuous and intellectual pleasures Even getting old was no threat I never had the temperament nor the leisure to become aware of it.Shortly after Hans left, Brecht drove up one morning in his battered Ford and said that it was utterly ridiculous to have financial worries, when he and I could put our brains together and invent Brilliant, detailed, invigorating I was not unhappy I was exhausted, impatient, frustrated, often desperate, overworked but my life still had moments of joy, of sensuous and intellectual pleasures Even getting old was no threat I never had the temperament nor the leisure to become aware of it.Shortly after Hans left, Brecht drove up one morning in his battered Ford and said that it was utterly ridiculous to have financial worries, when he and I could put our brains together and invent a saleable film story I was very flattered that he considered my brain good enough to be put together with his, but he was not joking he suggested that we work two hours a day and write a strictly commercial story We were to commit ourselves to abide by the rules and respect Hollywood taboos which, after my years at MGM, I thoroughly knew Why shouldn t we be able to do as well as any Hollywood hack he asked Because what the producers want is an original but familiar, unusual but popular, moralistic but sexy, true but improbable, tender but violent, slick but highbrow masterpiece When they have that, then they can work on it and make it commercial, to justify their high salaries Brecht bit into his cigar and assured me that we could write our story in such a way that they would not notice what a highbrow masterpiece it was But we had to proceed scientifically, soberly and objectively THE KINDNESS OF STRANGERS is one of the best memoirs I ve ever read Salka Viertel 1889 1978 I had no knowledge of who she was prior to reading her memoir But no sooner had I begun to read the first few pages, a door had been opened to a spacious house with many rooms, corners, and closets by an old, dear friend I hadn t heard from for many moons Salka s words became alive and I eagerly listened to her life story A life that had begun in a bourgeois Jewish family her father was a disting THE KINDNESS OF STRANGERS is one of the best memoirs I ve ever read Salka Viertel 1889 1978 I had no knowledge of who she was prior to reading her memoir But no sooner had I begun to read the first few pages, a door had been opened to a spacious house with many rooms, corners, and closets by an old, dear friend I hadn t heard from for many moons Salka s words became alive and I eagerly listened to her life story A life that had begun in a bourgeois Jewish family her father was a distinguished lawyer and also mayor of Salka s hometown in the province of Galicia in the latter years of the Austro Hungarian Empire Salka aspired to be an actress and, after wearing down her parents resistance, was given acting lessons This was in the era just before the outbreak of the First World War Salka became acquainted with some of the finest actors, artists, and musicians as she slowly ascended the ladder to a steady acting career which earned her distinction Then the war intervenes and for a time, Salka and her younger sister Rose who would became an actress herself served as nurses before resuming acting in both Austria Hungary and Germany She led a somewhat bohemian lifestyle before making the acquaintance of the man Berthold Viertel who would later become her husband Berthold was a talented poet, writer, and had extensive interest in the theatre He would go on to become a distinguished theatre director, poet, and film maker The memoir then transports the reader into Salka s later life which took her from Europe to America, where she would eventually work in Hollywood, make the acquaintance of Greta Garbo who became a close friend , become an American citizen, and helped find homes in America Salka lived in a lovely house in Santa Monica, California, not far from the Pacific for many of the writers, artists, actors and actresses who were lucky to escape Hitler s clutches Through reading THE KINDNESS OF STRANGERS , the reader is given access to 2 lost worlds spanning half of the 20th century That is, the pre Hitler German speaking stage and the pre CGI Hollywood as it was from the 1920s to the 1940s Through all her ups and downs, Salka Viertel remained resilient, strong, tender hearted, and full of life I am so glad that I made her acquaintance `DOWNLOAD E-PUB ↟ Das unbelehrbare Herz: Erinnerungen an ein Leben mit Künstlern des 20. Jahrhunderts (Die Andere Bibliothek 313) ⇭ Einer der Quelltexte der Exilforschung desJahrhunderts Salkaherz ein Genie der Freundschaft im kalifornischen Exil Wie aus einem K nstlerlexikon zur ersten H lfte des vergangenen Jahrhunderts lesen sich die Namen der Freunde, die Salomea Steuermann, von allen nur Salka Viertel genannt, um sich zu versammeln wusste Karl Kraus und Alfred Polgar, Max Reinhardt, Thomas und Heinrich Mann, Albert Einstein und Arnold Sch nberg, Sergej Eisenstein und Greta Garbo, deren Drehbuchautorin sie war, Bertolt Brecht und Bruno Frank, Hanns Eisler und viele andere K nstler, mit und ohne Namen Diese faszinierende und fr h emanzipierte Salka Viertel war kein Hollywood Filmstar und keine mond ne Gesellschaftsdame, sondern eine begnadete Gastgeberin, die ihr Haus an der Mabery Road in Santa Monica zum vielger hmten Salon machte schlie lich zum Hafen f r die Heimatlosen , die europ ischen Emigranten nachSalka Viertels Lebenserinnerungen, Ende der er Jahre in den Vereinigten Staaten erschienen, sind die Memoiren einer fast Vergessenen, die einen unvergleichlichen Blick auf dramatische Jahrzehnte europ ischer Kulturgeschichte erm glichen vor allem auf die Welt des Theaters und des Films bisund die Exilierung dieser Kultur in Kalifornien