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Celebrating the Vibrant Lifestyle of Jean Stein

Author and editor Jean Stein led a vibrant social life. (Mr. Fish / Truthdig)

Author and editor Jean Stein led a vibrant social life. (Mr. Fish / Truthdig)

“She loved quirky people and misfits. She was not your typical mom waking up to make eggs,” Katrina vanden Heuvel said of her mother, Jean Stein. “She was a rebel with a cause. She was interested in the whistleblowers and the troublemakers.”

Stein, a renowned writer and editor, died on April 30 at 83.

“Author and editor Jean Stein led a life of letters and ideas that ranged from her recent study of mid-20th century Los Angeles to her classic take on model Edie Sedgwick to her tenure at the helm of the Paris Review and, later, the magazine Grand Street,” Truthdig Deputy Editor Kasia Anderson wrote earlier this month. “Like many of the people whose lives she chronicled, she was an American original, and her loss is deeply felt at Truthdig.”

Vanden Heuvel and numerous others recently spoke to The New York Times about Stein’s lively social gatherings and magnetic personality.

Truthdig Editor in Chief Robert Scheer, a longtime friend of Stein, remembered how her parties in New York brought together writers, composers and artists.

“This was what was supposed to be happening in New York,” Scheer told the Times. “There were intense political arguments, cultural arguments. I got into a fistfight with Ivanhoe Donaldson at [Stein’s] apartment. And I can’t remember now quite what the argument was. … My bloodstains were on her carpet for some years after.”

“I can’t remember anymore what anyone said, but I remember that everyone, no matter who, was interacting,” recalled author Joan Didion, one of Stein’s close friends. “If you were there at a Jean party, you had to interact. That was a given.”

“I can’t think of anybody before Jean that was having those high-low parties,” author Renata Adler said. “At her parties you encountered worlds that did not normally overlap.”

While Stein’s death is a tremendous loss, these anecdotes shed light on decades of her vibrant life.

Cartoonist and playwright Jules Feiffer summed it up: “She was the ringmaster. She didn’t seem to be doing anything, and she was doing everything.”

Read the full set of interviews here.

—Posted by Emma Niles

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