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Fallingwater Rising

Posted: Tue Jun 05, 2007 6:19 pm
by PNB
I enjoyed reading the various book reviews on the Fellowship that were recently posted. While the authors of that book seemed to have a bias and some of their material was questionable I still felt it was a worthwhile read for its insight into the Fellowship.

I am currently reading Franklin Toker's Fallingwater Rising. Halfway through it I am feeling quite disappointed. It seems like he makes some pretty big leaps in some of his theories on Fallingwater's story. His claim of EJ being a co-architect of FLLW's second greatest work (in my humble opinion) is just plain silly. I am curious what those of you have read this book think of it.

Posted: Tue Jun 05, 2007 11:35 pm
by SDR
I'm curious; if Fallingwater is Wright's second greatest work, what do you pick as number one ?

I haven't read Toker's book yet. I still consider Donald Hoffman's to be the best straight study of the house.

Once it's all been said, it's hard to believe that anyone is going to bring reliable new material to bear on further studies of the man and his work. But I've been wrong before !


Posted: Wed Jun 06, 2007 4:14 am
by Roderick Grant
As fantastic as Fallingwater is (it was my introduction to FLW when I was 6) I have to give the number one spot to Taliesin. Fallingwater is comparable to Beethoven's Fifth, while Taliesin is An De Freude.

I agree, Don Hoffmann's book is the best assessment of the architecture. Toker (whose book I still have not finished ... I couldn't get over the odd description of the exterior staircase from the top floor to the second floor balcony; totally loony) seems too involved with things that have little if anything to do with the architecture. Don is one of the best writers on Wright, along with Quinan, Hildebrand, Manson and Lippmann.

Posted: Wed Jun 06, 2007 9:15 am
by googieagog
Toker speculates far too much for my taste, and way too much for an academic. But when he sticks to the facts -- if his facts are accurate -- he does make an interesting case for EJ Jr. rewriting history after dad's death. Toker's account of dad's architectural experience prior to Fallingwater, the distance between Wright and Jr., and snippets of correspondence which support his premise, are illuminating. I suspect the truth is somewhere between Jr.'s and Toker's versions. And you've gotta love the ancecdote about Frida Kahlo's stay at Fallingwater.

Posted: Wed Jun 06, 2007 6:45 pm
by PNB
To answer SDR I have the same favorite as Mr. Grant. I never tire of visiting Taliesin and am looking forward to my trip there in two weeks. Thanks for all the comments - I will look for Hoffman's book.

On an interesting aside I learned today that one of my employees met FLLW when he was 11. His mother's cousin was an apprentice there. On another note I moved back to Wisconsin about 8 months ago. It was during my 12 years in Minnesota I became a FLLW buff. I have been constantly amazed at how many Wisconsonites think FLLW built the awful House on the Rock. In fact many Wisconsonites have commented to me about FLLW buildings that are in fact others peoples creations. A good example of these are Percy Bentley's prairie style houses in LaCrosse.

Posted: Wed Jun 06, 2007 7:19 pm
by SDR
If all the houses that people have come to think are by Wright, were added up, they would probably triple the Old Man's actual production !


Posted: Wed Jun 06, 2007 7:58 pm
by Deke
I found Fallingwater Rising to be a terrific read...really a new genre in a way: a biography of a building! One of the best books I've read about Wright. Certainly better than FLW's own loopy prose, and head and shoulders above other, more anecdotal, books. I believe a film is in the works. Robert Duvall as FLW anyone?


Posted: Thu Jun 07, 2007 2:47 am
by Roderick Grant
Robert Duvall? If the film is of the Fallingwater era, when FLW was in his late 60s, Dustin Hoffman, who is about 68, could be made up to look exactly like Wright, who had a full head of hair, unlike Duvall. Hoffman is also about the right height, and has a deep voice. I'm still holding out for Ernest Borgnine as Olga.

Posted: Thu Jun 07, 2007 10:12 am
by googieagog
PNB wrote: I have been constantly amazed at how many Wisconsonites think FLLW built the awful House on the Rock.
Awful is right. That has to be the worst building commonly attributed to Wright. Funny, sad and maddening.

Posted: Thu Jun 07, 2007 1:09 pm
by Reidy
Here in LA it's usually Lloyd Wright or Lautner.

I agree that Toker speculates too much, about historical influences, about acquaintances and meetings (with Barnsdall, the Lovells, the Arensbergs, for example) and about what went on within the family (his silly account of the stairway from Junior's bedroom to the terrace). Just the same he's tracked down a lot of valuable information.

I have a hunch that non-fiction writers are under economic pressure to pad their books out. A 150-page book costs the publisher almost as much to produce as one with 400 pages, but buyers feel cheated by the shorter one. Thus publishers give us the longer book for the same price with the same amount of usable information, and we feel we've gotten our money's worth.

Posted: Thu Jun 07, 2007 7:29 pm
by SDR
Well, that makes sense to me. I'm bulling my way through Jared Diamond's "Collapse," a dry and informative 575 pages which could probably have told its very important story in half that.

Ernest Borgnine; "Whaddya want to do tonight, Frankie ?" I love it. . . :roll:


Posted: Fri Jun 08, 2007 9:06 am
by therman7g
I'm still holding out for Ernest Borgnine as Olga.
You're killing me. Welcome back RGrant.

Posted: Fri Jun 08, 2007 3:45 pm
by Reidy
In her youth perhaps, but Joan Collins for the later sequences. Dying to hear her Montenegrin accent.

Posted: Fri Jun 08, 2007 7:32 pm
by SDR
Joan Collins ? You flatter Olga !

Let's see -- what would Streep do with the role ? Bette Midler ? Bea Arthur ?

I've got it: Chloris Leachman !! She can do the accent, she looks good with a little bit of facial hair, she can do nasty and imperious to a fault !

Now, for Frahnk. . .too bad Vincent Price is so tall -- and so dead. . .

It WOULD be interesting to see what Hoffman would do with the part.

Art Garfunkle ? Was he a serious fan ? Maybe one of the apprentices, in a non-professional but highly-legitimate casting choice ? Bob Moser ? Ed Tafel ?

Eric Lloyd Wright ?

Posted: Fri Jun 08, 2007 10:34 pm
by JimM
Gary Oldham! He has a leg up having done Beethoven to perfection...big head...receding hairline... not too famous (most actors really play "themselves" in every role, and playing Frank would be harder than one might think).

Laugh if you want, but Johhny Depp would hit it out of the park; even if a bit young for the era.