Next book



All the same, this poke in the eye of literary opinion and knowledge feels oddly good.

For someone who has gained a modest reputation as a bumptious crank, critic Krystal (A Company of Readers, not reviewed) comes across here as sensible, personable, and unafraid of his own ideas, whether good or gaseous.

Which is not to say that the author isn’t a crank, given to writing things like, “that word is spelled t-a-s-t-e . . . does the fact that everyone has the right to an opinion mean that all opinions are equal?” Not in this book. For Krystal, great works “enter the blood,” where “self-communion folds into self-realization,” with the wonderful possibility of transformation and transcendence at the hand of “the truest expression of human condition.” However, all this delectable reading, this “sequestered, magical, self-absorbed fun,” had better not become an end in itself, he writes in an essay that condemns living through books at the expense of using them as guideposts to the directly experienced lifescape. The title doesn’t lie; there’s agitation aplenty in these pages. Krystal mulls over big topics like religion (“I expect God gets certain people high in the same way that Nature or the Sublime used to get Woodsworth and Coleridge high”); footling topics like deconstructionism (“professors of literature, as they will be the first to acknowledge, are quite superior to the text in hand”); and that fundamental question anyone seeking publication ought to ask: “Will the world be better for what I write?” To be sure, he is often peckish about contemporary writing, no longer finding exaltation or the retreat into fabulous countries or enough metaphysical meat on the bones of his reading. “The best is the enemy of the good, and once you have become acquainted with the former, why bother with the rest?” writes Krystal. Well, perhaps he is being a crank, and maybe he ought to get out more.

All the same, this poke in the eye of literary opinion and knowledge feels oddly good.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2002

ISBN: 0-300-09216-4

Page Count: 200

Publisher: Yale Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2002

Next book


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

Next book



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

Close Quickview