Reads like an extended junior year abroad.



The book your mildly funny co-worker dreams of quitting his job to write.

Corbett, a dissatisfied young Australian gossip columnist, had always fantasized about living in Paris. Instead, he found himself broke in London, loathing the fog and, after two years, still trying to get over the failed relationship that brought him there. So when he saw an ad for a job in Paris, he applied, even though he was “hopelessly underqualified.” To his surprise, he was hired. He found an apartment, witnessed a Parisian couple copulating before an unshuttered window, and suddenly his heart was no longer his own. The rest of the memoir is devoted to his burgeoning love affair with the city, along with some stabs at human romance. While Corbett’s exuberance is winning and his writing competent, his adventures are standard guidebook fare. He presents unforgivably unimaginative insights and nicknames with the expectation of belly laughs: His circle of expat friends is the “Paris Posse”; he dubs a fellow gym-goer “the Freak,” because she’s weird; and one of the objects of his adoration is “the Showgirl,” because…she’s a showgirl. The author fails to devote enough time to the few truly amusing episodes, as when he contracted crabs, apparently without sexual contact of any kind, and had to visit a series of insensitive, unbelieving or hard-of-hearing medical professionals. Also quite funny is his account of being coerced into appearing on a French-language game show. A sense of shame prevents him from giving anything but a summary account of the proceedings, but the reactions he describes from those who saw the show indicate it must have been memorable. More episodes like this would have greatly improved his uneven, mostly uninspired book.

Reads like an extended junior year abroad.

Pub Date: April 1, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-7679-2817-5

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Broadway

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2008

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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 20, 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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