Fong-Torres, 12 years an editor at Rolling Stone and currently feature writer for the San Francisco Chronicle, presents a richly detailed life of Gram Parsons—a musician who, although his records sold poorly and he died in 1973 at the age of 26, continues to be cited as a seminal influence by musicians as diverse as Emmy Lou Harris, Keith Richards, Tom Petty, and Elvis Costello. Born into a wealthy southern family, Parsons, as Fong-Torres shows in interviews with the musician's sister and friends from Waycross, Ga., was reared by alcoholic parents who indulged him and encouraged his musical bent. His short life followed this childhood pattern with fidelity. Given to self-destruction (he died of a heroin overdose), Parsons wrote strikingly beautiful songs and trashed them in performance with compulsive drinking and drugging. At one session with a producer who shared his hobby, he fell from the piano stool and attempted to continue singing from the floor, while the producer passed out across the control board. Probably the just-say-no bunch and the he-did-it-for-art crowd will both claim him; Fong-Torres, laudably, cleaves to straight reporting. For a while, Parsons was a member of the Byrds, although only co- founders Roger McGuinn and Chris Hillman received royalties—the other musicians were hired hands. He turned them on to the fun of contemporary country music, but was fired for refusing to tour South Africa. Keith Richards, with whom Parsons hung out in 1969, is quoted: ``he...redefined the possibilities of country music for me, personally. If he had lived, he probably would have redefined it for everybody.'' A more convincing tribute is offered by Emmy Lou Harris (whom Parsons ``discovered'') via her ongoing recording and performance of Parsons's songs. A skillfully drawn portrait, tragic and absorbing. (Eight pages of photos—not seen.)

Pub Date: July 10, 1991

ISBN: 0-671-70513-X

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Pocket

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 1991



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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