Like Walker's past collections, this one makes a stab at some of the themes of her fiction—nonpatriarchal religion, the true relationship of humans to the earth, racism, the oppression of women, and the interconnectedness of all of the above. But like her earlier essays, these fail to address the issues with anything approaching the grace of her fiction. She covers both the large and small, the historic and the everyday, celebrating the Million Man March, Zora Neale Hurston, Winnie Mandela, dreadlocks, and her family. But too often, when she writes about people she knows—her siblings, or her partner, for instance—the affectionate portraits don't tell us anything new or surprising. In one essay, Walker lambastes her critics for making her feel bad, comparing a review she received from another black female writer in the Village Voice to an obscene, threatening note she received in the mail. She writes about an essay that went unwritten because she was discouraged by "unhelpful" reviews; yet she is so vague about the nature of the criticism that one can't help thinking that what really bothered her was being criticized at all. It's not the only point at which she uses the collection as an opportunity to vent her personal grudges—against a writer who allegedly plagiarized a letter she wrote to Essence magazine that was never printed, and against the New York Times and other publications that haven't treated her with the respect she believes she deserves. Worse, much of her prose here is rambling, unclear, and choppy. One of these pieces contains a lengthy excerpt from her Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, The Color Purple, which only serves to reinforce our disappointment in her nonfiction writing.

Pub Date: April 1, 1997

ISBN: 0-679-45584-1

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 1997



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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