The book is an anthology of poetry, fiction, non-fiction, and song lyrics, each of which treats Ms. Gardner in some direct (or indirect) way. It is, in concept, a sequel to my 2008 volume Sinatra: But Buddy I'm a Kind of Poem, which looks at the many different Sinatras that poets and songwriters have created over the years. And, while Sinatra, not surprisingly, also makes appearances in this volume, the focus always remains on Ava and her compelling mix of talent, strength, beauty, insecurity, and, yes, excess.
Some selections see the actress as a symbol of beauty or tenacity, others as a marker of times past and glories gone, and others as an unattainable dream or a keen reflection of the strong women in their own lives. In selection after selection, the power of Ava's work in film also rings out: Mogambo, Pandora..., On the Beach, Show Boat, Night of the Iguana, and The Barefoot Contessa, etc., a body of work that resonates still.
The authors whose works are included are quite varied: from the very well known (Margaret Atwood, Robert Graves, Allen Gurganus, Suzanne Vega, and Ava's own Mario Cabre) to those perhaps known primarily in poetry circles (Michael S. Harper, Virgil Suarez, Peg Boyers, Kirpal Singh, and Pere Gimferrer), from Ava's contemporaries to those from almost every generation since.
Reflecting Ava's own cosmopolitanism, the anthology also boasts authors not just from North America, but from all around the world: Spain, France, England, New Zealand, Greece, India, and the Philippines.
I'm pretty sure there's no other book on Ms. Gardner like this: It celebrates not just who she was, but the meanings the world has made of her -- not to mention the fascination her life, her films, and her spirit still hold for us all.
For nearly a hundred years she has inspired and inflamed her idolators, from matador to billionaire, guttersnipe paparazzo to head-in-the-clouds poet. Professor G.’s unique anthology—a rich mix of hymn, recollection, random invocation—is a divine tribute to the Goddess of sex, glamour, and passion.