on November 5, 2003
This is the book that launched my interest in Gia. Stephen Fried compiles an unbelievable amout of research and creates a necessary book, particularly for young people.
However, "Tragedy" portrays just the surface of Gia. I finished reading the book not really able to imagine how the real person must have been. The book chronicles the fashion world of that time period, and at times creates much more vivid portraits of supporting figures in Gia's life than of Gia herself.
"Why" is the unanswered question here: why was Gia the way she was? I don't understand how life's everyday traumas (which most of us can experience and handle normally) could propel Gia to destroy her life. She made it to a place that millions dream of, and squandered it so swiftly and horrifically. I think it's a cop-out to blame most of Gia's behavior on the mother, though "Mom" seemed to have a particular preoccupation with herself and her own material gain. This was a disadvantage to the kids, who could have been more, shall we say, properly guided during their younger years.
I found the workings and anecdotes of the fashion industry completely fascinating thanks to Fried's exhaustive research. However, I am critical of the author's numerous shots at The Reagans, which came across as transparent, patronizing propaganda.
All criticism aside, this is must-read material.
on May 27, 2002
This book is basically the only sound source on Gia Carangi, except a few documentaries aired on American television and a few websites. As the only book exclusively on her, even though as has been previously mentioned, the book deals with rather ridiculous fashion industry issues, it deserves a great deal of credit.
I don't think that the fashion industry per se had anything to do with Gia's tragedy, we should instead doubt her taste in friends and lovers. But most of all, she was for some reson incredibly susceptible to heroin, and that is the true source of her misery. Chances are that Gia was manic depressive with a great deal of mania thrown in there, and received great relief from this sedating/seductive drug.
To my thinking - absolutely nobody - not even Marilyn Monroe herself could compare to this outstandingly beautiful woman. She should have been an actress, definitely, and I'm surprised that nobody seems to have taken her on for such a project. Perhaps her being a lesbian (and less interested in convincing directors) and a rebel prevented her from this. Perhaps she wasn't interested. She did say in one "interview"/home-made movie with a very stoned twitching Gia, that she wanted to "make a big splash in scenography".
Take home message: This book is adequately well-written, deals with fashion industry in a simplistic way but despite this it's great because it's got pictures of Gia in it as well as some good research on her life. One thing would be better than this: A compilation of Gia photos.
on March 26, 2002
This book took me awhile to get through, but the more time I spent with it, the more I appreciated the tremendous amount of time and research that the author went through to put it together. I have not been able to find much else that documents the time period and the industry so well. Although it is focused on the life of 1 person, it provides an interesting commentary on the late 70's and early 80's. Stephen Fried deserves praise for preserving the memories of interesting and influential people who otherwise could be forgotten by many.
On another level it would be easy to say that the story of Gia was one of fame and fortune that came too quickly and went unchecked and without a mentor, but Gia seemed too smart for that. With all the turmoil in her life, she always seemed to know what was going on and what she was doing to herself. She just chose to ignor it. Just like so many people, it appears that she never found her true calling and in her frustration/boredom turned to escapist activities which eventually contributed to her death.
If you enjoy reading well researched and detailed biographies, then I highly recommend this book. You will leave with a different perspective of the fashion industry, and if you are like me, this book will spark your curiousity as to what became of some of the other celebrities of the period.
Had she survived her drug use, I can not help but wonder where she would be today. Would she have devoted herself to working in the rehabilitation industry, or perhaps become an activist in the gay and lesbian community. I was interested to learn that some popular actors began their careers as her peers in the modeling business. We will never know, but through this work we will always remember her.
on November 21, 2001
I can remember when I was in elementary school and I saw Gia on the cover of Cosmopolitan and I thought to myself, " I wish I could grow up to look like her." I was completely stunned when I found out years later that Gia, the model I had wanted so desperately to look like, had died in horrifically.
I bought the book because of that memory, to see if I couldn't learn something about the woman beyond the image on the glossy cover of the magazine and I found myself mourning for a girl who was lost and had no chance of finding her way out the darkness she was mired in.
The book introduces you to Gia's mother, father, her siblings,and the people she loved most in her life. It was amazing to me that someone so gifted at birth with beauty saw nothing beautiful in herself and spent her life trying to escape the world she created around herself. I got a sense that her mother never realized the damage she did to her daughter by abandoning her children to her ex-husband and she would never accept the responsibility for the pain she inflicted on her daughter. She manipulated her daughter whenever she could. She wanted to live through Gia and in doing so she sucked the joy from her daughter's life.
Having lived the life of an manipulated, stifled child, I could clearly see where the darkness began to seal around Gia. I think that she would have been able to traverse the pitfalls alot better if she had had a friend or two who had wanted only her best interests to be served and not grab a piece of Gia for themselves.
She was a fractured young woman in need of stability and it was only offered to her in segments and at a very high cost. The people around her only brokered the bits and pieces they knew about her. Unfortunately, the one left with the tab was Gia, who died young, in anonymity and without any of her dazzling beauty left. What she found in the end was the fragments of a dream that she truly wanted to pursue, but her chance to grasp the shooting star was lost.
You can never judge a book by its cover and never a person by their physical beauty or lack of it. What makes a person unique is their spirit and the trials and triumphs that they have endured in their lives. Gia didn't have a chance from the start. It didn't matter how beautiful she was, there was no fairy tale ending for her, despite the brilliance of her arrival and short stay in the glittering world of the wealthy and trendy.
This book is great for those who forget that money and beauty can't buy happiness. Gia's couldn't. This book should be a warning and a legacy. A disturbing read but clearly worthwhile.
on August 21, 2001
This book is amazing in its extensive detail. As thoroughly researched as any textbook, the facts and interviews are almost mindboggling. Anything you wanted to know about Gia's life is presented here in excruciating journalistic detail. . .but not everything you wanted to know, and the journalistic detail is as cold and detatched as a robot.
There is no emotional image, no living picture, no mythological resonnance, no romantic thread to hold together the parade of facts.
The author tangents so much on the lives and careers of the other players in Gia's life that in many chapters she becomes secondary, or even tertiary. This book might better be titled: Gia: The Lives of Those Who Knew Her."
The .. movie (which was supposedly unoffically based on this book) managed to take the raw facts of Gia's life and mythologize them into a meanigful story, if a bit lacking in cold hard facts, that gave us a rotund image of the flaming fluid life of Gia. The film takes the facts and the remeniscents of those who knew her and weaves these threads into a living tapestry which this book can not achieve.
And yet, I can't close without giving credit to the authors amazingly detailed work. He is, after all, a journalist, and not a novelist. He's not a myth weaver, he's a fact reporter. And so I can't really say that he failed in his mission, as the mission of any journalist is to provide as clear and concise a body of facts as she/he can. I can only say that I wanted more poetry and more litarature in this book. So, I say buy it if you are in any way interseted in Gia or in anyway intersted in the fashion world/industry. But if you want to taste Gia's fire, rent the .. movie.
on May 18, 2001
I personally read this book on,"Super Model,"Gia Marie Carangi",and also have the Movie,"Gia",Too beautiful to die,too wild too live,if I got it close without looking. But,this book,is a excellent book,on "Gia's",life,I know a lot of people say,well she was a model,who was a junkie,but I dont agree.Gia was abused,mentally,sexually,and physically,in her early life,and having to go through what she did,with the abuse,neglect,being ignorned mostly by her own mother!!!!! I believe if Gia's family cared about what was happening,I believe she still might have made it,she tried to tell her mother,she was crying out for her mother,and family,but it was too late for Gia.See I also Model,so I know,it isnt what it seem's!!!!!! Dont be fooled,no body look's like that,not even you,from the movie,when Gia was in rehab,that is soo true!!!!!And once you are Modeling,you think Ill never do what she did,well when that time come's,girl's sadly change their mind's.Ive learned a lot from Gia's life,and I have not subcombed to taking drug's to numb my inner pain,that's my difference from Gia.A MUST READ,A VERY WELL WRITTEN BIOGRAPHY,FROM,STEPHEN M.FRIED,on the life of,"Super Model,Gia Marie Carangi".I just wished someone wouldive helped her,I think a lot of GIA,and the same or almost same life,Ive been there too!!!!!! A MUST READ,5 star's,a excellent book.Thank's,Teresa Tomsic
on March 24, 2001
I read, loved, and hated, this book. It was very painful for me to read. I initally purchased it because I have family members who have ties to heroin and so I wanted an inside peek into this secretive world. Well, this book gave me that peek, however, it still didn't supply my need to understand "why".
Gia's life seemed very typical to me; it was riddled with painful life altering traumas, the kind we all experience. Dysfunction, divorce, adolescent anxst. The differece with Gia, however, was that she became a supermodel. Is this what made her a heroin addict? I really don't know, but I really don't think so. This book does not answer that question. That in itself was frustrating. WHY?
It was frustrating to see her completely destruct.
I am not sure that the author had a complete idea of Gia's family life as he wrote about them as if they were complacent sideliners one minute and the next minute it was if they were loving, supportive caregivers. Perhaps they were both. I guess that is what it is like trying to live with drug addicted family members.
In summary, this book is more about drug addiction and the sadness it cultivates than any 'glamour' related story of a model gone bad.
Be prepared to feel sad, and numb, when you finish this book.
on November 22, 2000
Though filled with details that do not convey much about the life and death of Gia, a compelling character from the late seventies and early eighties who rose to supermodel fame and died of AIDS more or less an unknown. Well researched and understandably written, the narrative reads too much like a newspaper story at times and much of the book is devoted to a history and analysis of the advertising and fashion industires.
Though biographical and laced with trenchant images of the late model, the angle of the book is far too academic and sympathetic to the excesses of its subject. Not that a judgement call is asked for or needed, there is no question Gia destroyed herself, what is missing is the essence of this sad story. Much of the information for this book was provided by an estranged mother who came to the dying model's side toward the end of her life. Thus the sometimes acute lack of objectivity found in the rest of the book.
Though a very good effort, this book disappoints on many levels. There is too much writing devoted to the throes of Gia's death and the joys of her rise to fortune and fame. A bit too much devoted to an explanation of her industry and too little devoted to her complicated personality. She comes across as a party girl with some talent and a look and she was considerably more than that.
As a biography this book succeeds in detailing the major events of Gia's life and untimely demise. It does with accuracy and fairness categorize her field of work, her sexuality and her lifestyle but it does not put a human face on the person who lived this life. We learn much about the people in her lief and come to know them, but you leave this book not knowing its subject at all and that is its failure.
Gia was an intricate and sophisticated person. A woman of great beauty and promise beset by pain we never come to realize from this work. Sadly she is lost forever because of self-destructive behavior and a total lack of support from those around her. The human side of that story along with the empirical information we are given would have made this a thumbs up winner.
on December 26, 1999
After I saw the HBO movie "Gia" I found myself yearning to know more about this woman's life. "Thing of Beauty" not only presents the real and compelling story of Gia from her troubled upper middle class adolescence in suburban Phillie to her rise as the "first supermodel" to her downfall to heroin, which led to her untimely death from AIDS, but is also a great historical/pop culture account of the late '70s and early '80s. Instead of giving a one dimensional look at Gia and getting caught up in the whole sapphic side of her personality like the movie, the book presents a full view of a complex and very tragic woman literally eaten alive by the world of fashion. Had I not picked up this book I never would have known that Cindy Crawford, refered to in the early stages of her career as "Baby Gia," literally owes her success to Gia. (The pictures show an uncanny resemblance.) This book was over 400 pages of tiny text and I devoured it in two days.
on April 27, 1999
I am writing this to say that Gia has spoken loud and clear from the grave. Before I saw the movie or read the book, I felt that the AIDS victims were to blame for their ailment and " it was their problem, why should I care!" Well, Gia's story Slapped me in the face! It was painful! She put a face on AIDS. I have since decided to help AIDS victims any way I can. That is the silent promise I made to her. If only she were alive to hear it. Gia touched me so much I can hardly explain it. She taught me a lesson. I love her and appreciate her for that. That same year(1986), I lost a very dear cousin to alcohol and drugs. We know the pain of her family because we were going through the same type of loss. I hurts like hell!! To Gia's family and friends my heart goes out to all of you!! May God bless and be with all of you!! Sincerely, Carla Marie Lovato From Las cruces, New Mexico P.S If I could obtain the e-mail of Mr. Fried It would be deeply appreciated,or even a family member of Gia's It would be most appreciated!! Thank You!!!