A spry, readable literary travelogue that stretches from the ’60s to the present, chronicling eternal verities and changing...

The Cold War–era Russian travels of the noted British novelist.

“Gadabout” is a more appropriate term than “gadfly,” since Sillitoe (New and Collected Stories, 2005, etc.)—the Angry Young Man of Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner (1960) fame—seldom sinks his Socratic stinger into the flesh of Soviet society. The impulse that took him to Russia in 1967 was more of the let’s-go-see-what-there-is-to-see sort, even if he was better equipped than most daytrippers—not only with his own car but also with hand-drawn maps showing, strategically, the location of gas stations and other necessities. Arriving from Finland, Sillitoe encountered signs of the times: “A young man played a Beatles tape: ‘We all live in a yellow submarine...’ and two Swedish mariners were trying to kiss a couple of Russian girls.” He also met his Passepartout, an official escort named George Andjapasidze, who eventually became the author’s good friend. Sillitoe’s path took him across western Russia and through the Iron Curtain to Yugoslavia, a winding itinerary “from the Baltic to the Adriatic.” Though not looking for trouble, he certainly found it, for the young literature students he encountered were, like their Western counterparts, in a rebellious spirit. A frank conversation, a speech before a writer’s group, a coincidental defection of a Soviet writer, and Sillitoe now finds himself less welcome in the country—and increasingly censored.

A spry, readable literary travelogue that stretches from the ’60s to the present, chronicling eternal verities and changing moods alike.

Pub Date: July 1, 2009

ISBN: 978-1-906217-58-7

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Aurum/Trafalgar

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2009


This is not the Nutcracker sweet, as passed on by Tchaikovsky and Marius Petipa. No, this is the original Hoffmann tale of 1816, in which the froth of Christmas revelry occasionally parts to let the dark underside of childhood fantasies and fears peek through. The boundaries between dream and reality fade, just as Godfather Drosselmeier, the Nutcracker's creator, is seen as alternately sinister and jolly. And Italian artist Roberto Innocenti gives an errily realistic air to Marie's dreams, in richly detailed illustrations touched by a mysterious light. A beautiful version of this classic tale, which will captivate adults and children alike. (Nutcracker; $35.00; Oct. 28, 1996; 136 pp.; 0-15-100227-4)

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 1996

ISBN: 0-15-100227-4

Page Count: 136

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1996




An extravaganza in Bemelmans' inimitable vein, but written almost dead pan, with sly, amusing, sometimes biting undertones, breaking through. For Bemelmans was "the man who came to cocktails". And his hostess was Lady Mendl (Elsie de Wolfe), arbiter of American decorating taste over a generation. Lady Mendl was an incredible person,- self-made in proper American tradition on the one hand, for she had been haunted by the poverty of her childhood, and the years of struggle up from its ugliness,- until she became synonymous with the exotic, exquisite, worshipper at beauty's whrine. Bemelmans draws a portrait in extremes, through apt descriptions, through hilarious anecdote, through surprisingly sympathetic and understanding bits of appreciation. The scene shifts from Hollywood to the home she loved the best in Versailles. One meets in passing a vast roster of famous figures of the international and artistic set. And always one feels Bemelmans, slightly offstage, observing, recording, commenting, illustrated.

Pub Date: Feb. 23, 1955

ISBN: 0670717797

Page Count: -

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 25, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1955

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