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BOSTON GLOBE

Book Review: In Search of Harriet the Spy‘s Creator in SOMETIMES YOU HAVE TO LIE

Adult readers of children’s books are often surprised by the grownup lives of their creators. But after all, artists who choose the medium of children’s books to express their creativity are not children themselves. In “Sometimes You Have to Lie’,” an engrossing and carefully researched biography of Louise Fitzhugh, Leslie Brody vibrantly tells the story of the complicated and ultimately triumphant life of the author of “Harriet the Spy.” She presents a full portrait of Fitzhugh, previously a shadowy figure at best, and places her firmly in the top rank of children’s book creators. What’s more, she establishes that Fitzhugh was a writer and artist who had an indelible impact on generations of young readers and adult writers as disparate as Jonathan Franzen and Alison Bechdel. Read more…

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WASHINGTON POST

Book Review: Inside the mind, life and friendships that created Harriet the Spy

“In her new biography of Fitzhugh, “Sometimes You Have to Lie,” Leslie Brody identifies parallels between the author’s life and art, delightful details for fans of Fitzhugh’s creations. Ole Golly, the beloved nanny whose departure from the Welsches’ Manhattan home is the organizing trauma of “Harriet the Spy,” is probably an amalgamation of the nannies Fitzhugh knew growing up in a Memphis mansion during the Great Depression, pampered in isolation. The therapist who helps Harriet through that loss may draw from Bertram Slaff, a psychiatrist whom Fitzhugh saw during her years living in New York City, where she pursued love and ambition as a gay artist enmeshed in a network of “successful, creative, pleasure loving, ambitious, knowledgeable lesbians,” as one friend described her circle. And Harrison Withers, the bird cage designer with a skylight big enough for Harriet to spy through, cares for 26 cats whose names include not just Fitzhugh’s preferred literary luminaries (Thomas Wolfe, Dostoevsky, Faulkner) but also some of her close friends (Alex, Sandra, Marijane).” Read more…

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NEW YORK TIMES

Book Review: Leslie Brody’s expansive and revealing new biography of Fitzhugh, “Sometimes You Have to Lie,” assembles the clues to the personal history that shaped her conscience and creative convictions.

“in an expansive and revealing new biography, “Sometimes You Have to Lie,” Leslie Brody assembles the clues to the personal history that shaped Fitzhugh’s conscience and creative convictions. Brody, a biographer and playwright who adapted “Harriet the Spy” for the stage in 1988, has pored through correspondence, memoirs and court documents, and conducted dozens of interviews to reveal the trail that Fitzhugh left unmarked.” Read more…

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PARIS REVIEW

Article: The Politics of Louise Fitzhugh

In the autumn of 1974, one month shy of the publication of her new novel, Nobody’s Family Is Going to Change, Louise Fitzhugh pulled the emergency brake. Authors rarely invoke such a costly and disruptive eleventh-hour freeze, but Fitzhugh persuaded her publishers at Farrar, Straus and Giroux that her book about a Black family in New York City was incomplete. Read more…

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VOX

Book Roundup: The 15 best books our book critic read this year, including SOMETIMES YOU HAVE TO LIE.

“In Sometimes You Have to Lie, Leslie Brody paints a portrait of Fitzhugh that’s almost as indelible as Harriet herself. Fitzhugh apparently lived a life of whirlwind glamour, beginning from her birth as the daughter of a Southern aristocrat and a jazz dancer; continuing through her days traveling Europe to learn how to paint Italian frescoes and smoke in Parisian gay bars; and into her time as an out lesbian artist living in New York’s West Village, learning how to write from a pulp novelist who was also Patricia Highsmith’s lover. In Brody’s hands, even Fitzhugh’s clothes (Brooks Brothers menswear, combat boots, and a cape) are over-the-top marvelous. Sometimes You Have to Lie is a deeply endearing introduction to the woman who gave the American canon one of its icons.” Read more…

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WASHINGTON BLADE

Book Review: Harriet the Spy creator was fabulously queer

“I love reading biographies – especially, of queer artists and writers. But some bios put you to sleep. 

Happily, “Sometimes You Have to Lie” by Leslie Brody, the new, intriguing biography of queer artist and writer Louise Fitzhugh, author and illustrator of the beloved children’s book “Harriet the Spy,” won’t give you any shut-eye.” Read more…

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AUTHOR STORIES PODCAST

Author Interview: Hank Garner discusses the life and times of Louise Fitzhugh, renegade author of Harriet the Spy

Listen here…

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NEW YORK POST

Book review: Harriet the Spy author Louise Fitzhugh’s secret, subversive life

“According to a new biography, Fitzhugh led a secret life that would have thrilled her nosy heroine. She was a pint-sized heiress with a dysfunctional Southern family. She was a lesbian who dressed in tailored suits and capes and had multiple affairs with women and a few men. 

She wrote few books before her death in 1974, at the young age of 46, and her last romantic partner took pains to keep as much of Louise’s salacious past — including her sexuality — under wraps. 

With the publication of the book, “Sometimes You Have to Lie: The Life and Times of Louise Fitzhugh, Renegade Author of Harriet the Spy” (Seal Press), out now, author Leslie Brody is finally revealing the truth.” Read more…

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MARIE CLAIRE

Book Roundup: Must-Read Books That Are Perfect to Lose Yourself During the Holidays

Sometimes You Have to Lie by Leslie Brody

Leslie Brody‘s latest work follows Louise Fitzhugh, who’s lived a rather radical life for someone raised in Tennessee. Finding her place in mid-century New York City, she brushes shoulders with the literati and was often called upon to hide her sexuality from public view. She remains a mystery to this day, but Leslie Brody’s new book works to pull back the curtain on Fitzhugh’s sensational life.” Read more…

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SHELF AWARENESS

Q&A: Reading With Leslie Brody

On your nightstand now: 

Anne Moody’s Coming of Age in Mississippi, Emma Goldman’s Living My LifeA Chill in the Air by Iris Origo. I am writing this in the midst of the pandemic in October 2020, in California where wildfires rage and where the chill in the air portends a frazzling democracy. The nonfiction books I’m reading are about resisting fascism. I admire Moody and Goldman for their great minds and courage under stress. Also, in the pile are novels by authors known for charm and wit and a touch of malice, Loitering with Intent by Muriel Spark, The Offshore by Penelope Fitzgerald and I’ll Be Leaving You Always by Sandra Scoppettone. Read more…