TEMPORARY HOMELANDS

Elegant essays that seek to understand rather than define our relationships with nature and the places we call home, by an award- winning poet and director of the Poetry Center at the University of Arizona. In 12 essays that are set in four ``loved places''—Grand Manan, a remote Canadian island; the woods of her Connecticut childhood; southern Alaska; and the Arizona desert—Deming explores ``the quality of reflection that these places seem to induce.'' And as she evokes these disparate locales, she skillfully includes vivid descriptions of local flora and fauna, autobiographical details, observations on humans' relationship with nature, as well as meditations on life, death, and the writing of poems. Each place has been a way station in her life, most notably Grand Manan, which she first visited as a child when her frugal Yankee father, concluding that Nantucket was becoming too expensive, found in this remote island, reachable only by a decrepit sling-and-winch ferry, the happy mix of beauty, relaxation, and cheapness he sought. Deming, who has returned there every subsequent summer, observes that ``it takes years to properly visit [a] place...to know where the wild blueberries ripen earliest...to notice a silly gull.'' As she describes the woods of her childhood, she recalls the conflicting reactions of her Puritan ancestors (she is a descendant of Nathaniel Hawthorne's) to the wilderness that surrounded them, her father's painful last illness, and her experiences as a single mother homesteading in rural Vermont. The essays set in Arizona and Alaska are more conventional accounts of, respectively, lingering traces of early Native Americans like the Ansazi and an Alaskan program that rehabilitates injured bald eagles. But even these more familiar topics are infused with Deming's sagacious insights. Nature writing that refreshingly manages to educate, entertain, and move without once resorting to the bully pulpit.

Pub Date: Aug. 8, 1994

ISBN: 1-56279-062-5

Page Count: 214

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 1994

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NUTCRACKER

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

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TO THE ONE I LOVE THE BEST

EPISODES FROM THE LIFE OF LADY MENDL (ELSIE DE WOLFE)

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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