Lyrical (if sometimes purple), satisfying, and suprisingly moving.

A.L.T.

A MEMOIR

Fashion’s eminent Fabulous Person chronicles his metamorphosis from country boy to man about town, moving from the side of his beloved grandmother to his equally cherished mentor, Diana Vreeland.

Vogue editor-at-large Talley has been a scene-maker since the ’70s: noticed by “Empress of Style” Vreeland when he interned at the Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, he moved on to cover the party circuit for Andy Warhol's Interview magazine and never left the center of the New York fashion world. His career-making obsession with elegant detail was come by honestly, he reveals, beginning a discussion of luxury by recalling how his North Carolina grandmother boiled and ironed their crisp white sheets. A cleaning woman, Talley's “Mama,” Bennie Frances Davis, demonstrated the importance of maintaining dignity and dash regardless of financial circumstances; the bulk of his text dwells on the wholly absorbing details of his southern childhood and his grandmother's style. Talley reports on Mama’s elegant church wardrobe, her practice of packing clothing in layers of tissue paper, and her abiding regard for a very fine pair of gloves. Talley finds a similar iron will in his “surrogate mother,” Vreeland, making repeated reference to her insistence on maintaining an impeccable pedicure even as she took to her bed and slowly expired. The tale is larded with fashionista gossip, but far less than one might expect—and that’s not the most compelling feature: when Talley discusses how his hospital room was decorated for a Nest magazine shoot, we wonder when he'll get back to his grandmother's cooking. For a man who makes his living in a world that focuses scrupulously on appearances, the author has a surprisingly passionate affection for faith and family.

Lyrical (if sometimes purple), satisfying, and suprisingly moving.

Pub Date: April 15, 2003

ISBN: 0-375-50828-7

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2003

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...

THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE

50TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION

Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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DEAR MR. HENSHAW

Possibly inspired by the letters Cleary has received as a children's author, this begins with second-grader Leigh Botts' misspelled fan letter to Mr. Henshaw, whose fictitious book itself derives from the old take-off title Forty Ways W. Amuse a Dog. Soon Leigh is in sixth grade and bombarding his still-favorite author with a list of questions to be answered and returned by "next Friday," the day his author report is due. Leigh is disgruntled when Mr. Henshaw's answer comes late, and accompanied by a set of questions for Leigh to answer. He threatens not to, but as "Mom keeps nagging me about your dumb old questions" he finally gets the job done—and through his answers Mr. Henshaw and readers learn that Leigh considers himself "the mediumest boy in school," that his parents have split up, and that he dreams of his truck-driver dad driving him to school "hauling a forty-foot reefer, which would make his outfit add up to eighteen wheels altogether. . . . I guess I wouldn't seem so medium then." Soon Mr. Henshaw recommends keeping a diary (at least partly to get Leigh off his own back) and so the real letters to Mr. Henshaw taper off, with "pretend," unmailed letters (the diary) taking over. . . until Leigh can write "I don't have to pretend to write to Mr. Henshaw anymore. I have learned to say what I think on a piece of paper." Meanwhile Mr. Henshaw offers writing tips, and Leigh, struggling with a story for a school contest, concludes "I think you're right. Maybe I am not ready to write a story." Instead he writes a "true story" about a truck haul with his father in Leigh's real past, and this wins praise from "a real live author" Leigh meets through the school program. Mr. Henshaw has also advised that "a character in a story should solve a problem or change in some way," a standard juvenile-fiction dictum which Cleary herself applies modestly by having Leigh solve his disappearing lunch problem with a burglar-alarmed lunch box—and, more seriously, come to recognize and accept that his father can't be counted on. All of this, in Leigh's simple words, is capably and unobtrusively structured as well as valid and realistic. From the writing tips to the divorced-kid blues, however, it tends to substitute prevailing wisdom for the little jolts of recognition that made the Ramona books so rewarding.

Pub Date: Aug. 22, 1983

ISBN: 143511096X

Page Count: 133

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 16, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1983

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