A charming, delightful collection for Beatles fans and music fans in general.

What’s your favorite Beatles song?

That’s what literary agent and author Blauner (editor: The Good Book: Writers Reflect on Favorite Bible Passages, 2015, etc.) asked some well-known novelists, journalists, music critics, actors, and musicians. Each contributes a pithy essay explaining why. Organized chronologically, a few standards are here—“I Want to Hold Your Hand,” “Yesterday,” “Let It Be”—as well as a few surprises. David Hajdu, music critic for the Nation, picks a song that usually ends up on the worst-songs list, “You Know My Name (Look Up the Number).” In an interview, however, Paul McCartney said it was “probably my favorite Beatles track.” John Lennon “relished” it, as well, and Hajdu finds it “irresistibly, if vexingly, compelling.” Singer Shawn Colvin writes, “lyrically, I can’t think of another heartbreak song as satisfying to sing as ‘I’ll Be Back.’ ” Rosanne Cash picks “No Reply” from 1965: “a handful of words, expertly woven into a fierce melody.” New Yorker staff writer Adam Gopnik is a fan of the 1967 double A-sided single “Strawberry Fields/Penny Lane,” a “perfect expression of the Beatles’ art at the high point of their artistry.” Chuck Klosterman “loves” the “sixth-best song [“Helter Skelter”] on their fifth-best album” because it “intermittently resembles the blades of a lawn mower falling out of alignment after hitting a brick.” Throughout the collection, we learn a great deal about how these songs came to be written and what the Beatles thought about them. Lennon dismissed “Let It Be” as “a bad Christmas carol.” The first song a female musician played on was “She’s Leaving Home.” Other Beatles’ fans picking their favorites include David Duchovny, Jane Smiley, Amy Bloom, Pico Iyer, Rebecca Mead, Jon Pareles, Alec Wilkinson, Touré, and the sly Rick Moody, who cheats, picking the “Golden Slumbers”/ “Carry That Weight”/ “The End” medley.

A charming, delightful collection for Beatles fans and music fans in general.

Pub Date: May 23, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-7352-1069-1

Page Count: 320

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: March 1, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2017



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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