Though there had been other books published about Sedgwick, none captured her voice literally or figuratively. "There was something else Edie was trying to say," explained Painter, "and her story deserved to be told again in terms of what she was trying to do." And that was that the most interesting medium was just living life.
The hardcover coffee table book, published by Chronicle Books and released late last year, features 250 rare color and black and white photographs, an audio CD of the “Ciao! Manhattan” tapes and quotes from men and women who knew Edie on a personal level from the beginning of her life to the end.
Weisman personally wrote the book’s foreward: Knowing Edie. The heart of the book, focusing on Sedgwick’s adult life but touching on her childhood, is divided into three distinct chapters based on geography: Cambridge, New York and California. Biographical notes and a timeline are included in the back.
The photos capture the beauty and essence of Edie. The quotes bring the photos to life and tell her story in a way no written biography could. The enclosed audio files of Sedgwick’s last ever interviews bring Edie to light, they’re her words, said in her way. They resonate like she was knowingly dictating her memoirs.
"The tapes were made for reference purposes in 1970, to help us come up with ideas on what to shoot," explained Weisman. "Without realizing it, we were recording Edie’s emotional recollection of her life, looking back on her life, eight to ten months before she died." They help Edie tell her story her way, something Weisman and Painter desperately wanted to allow Sedgwick to do.
"There was something really compelling about hearing someone speak from inside this persona I would have thought was an empty center," explained Painter after hearing Sedgwick speak for the first time. "What she had to say was so compelling and emotionally honest."
"The book took on a life of its own as the documentary grew," said Weisman. "It almost became a first draft screen play for the documentary."
The documentary will be ready when it’s ready hopefully sometime this spring. "We’re still working on it," Weisman admitted. "We’ve interviewed over 50 people. We’ve accumulated over 3,000 stills. We have 40 hours of footage."
It’ll be real.