The city editor at New York Magazine and author of Instant: The Story of Polaroid offers a portrait of the elusive Arthur Fellig, or Weegee the Famous—a photographer, psychic, and pioneer. Flash was the recipient of the 2019 National Book Critics Circle Award for Biography.
Now Christopher Bonanos’s Flash: The Making of Weegee the Famous has displaced a host of fragmentary recollections and the loudmouthed, unreliable memoir, Weegee by Weegee, published in 1961. Bonanos resurrects the inky roar of this world with a fine, nervy lip ... Weegee and his world don't encourage minimalism, and, fifty years after his death, he has at last acquired a biographer who can keep up with him.
Christopher Bonanos has finally supplied us with the biography Weegee deserves: sympathetic and comprehensive, a scrupulous account with just the right touch of irreverence ... He had played the outsize role of Weegee the Famous so long he confessed he had a hard time knowing who he really was.
His biographer knows, though. Flash gives us Weegee in full, offering a measure of protection against the oblivion he feared the most.
Mr. Bonanos’s shoe-leather reporting is especially welcome since many of the stories Weegee told about his exploits were dubious, and some were contradictory ... My one criticism of Flash is that it doesn’t explore Weegee’s penchant for flouting the assumption that people are entitled to their privacy.