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An often uplifting collection about life’s joys, wonders and quirks, shared by a writer who experienced them all.

A new anthology of the previously published musings of an upstate New York newspaper columnist.

Damsky may not have achieved his goal of becoming a famous actor or a popular singer, but he has worked in show business, advertising, radio and journalism during his full life. The latter vocation inspired this collection of past columns that he wrote mostly for the Boonville (New York) Herald. It consists of slice-of-life stories, often drawn from Damsky’s personal experiences from his childhood to the present day, with a tone similar to those of the late Andy Rooney or Charles Kuralt. Usually, a column begins with a present-day situation that triggers a flashback: a date with Linda Eastman before she became Mrs. Paul McCartney; a phone conversation with Clint Eastwood about an actor Damsky represented; or a foul ball that the author snagged as a child during batting practice at Yankee Stadium. There are many lighthearted moments along the way, such as when a 14-year-old Damsky accidentally drove the family car through closed garage doors. Other recollections are more poignant and serious, including his trip to the Holocaust Museum in Israel; his observations during a visit to communist Cuba in 1957; and his son’s return home after a tour of duty in Iraq (“seeing him come through the entranceway of that giant hangar, I have a newer and clearer understanding of what pride means”). Each column usually imparts a moral lesson or words of wisdom, as in a 2005 column about the recently deceased Rosa Parks: “It’s really quite incredible, for all she did to alter history, was utter only one rather tiny word—‘No.’ ” If there is a running theme, it’s perseverance, as in the story of his attempts to release his own gospel album. The book’s prose style is simple and lively, presented in a conversational tone. Some may not find the G-rated, folksy tone of the stories to their fancy, as there’s nothing cynical or snarky about them. Yet they don’t come across as overly sentimental, either. If anything, they reveal the personality and character of a columnist who always seemed engaged with the world around him.

An often uplifting collection about life’s joys, wonders and quirks, shared by a writer who experienced them all.

Pub Date: May 21, 2014

ISBN: 978-0692021231

Page Count: 321

Publisher: Barry Damsky

Review Posted Online: Oct. 9, 2014

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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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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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