The author’s recollection of the love he found and left in Napoli, artfully told.

FALLING PALACE

A ROMANCE OF NAPLES

A reverie of Hofstadter’s days in Campania is evoked in vibrantly loving terms by the smitten reporter (The Love Affair as a Work of Art, 1996, etc.).

For every tourist to Naples, the view of the blue gulf shimmering in the sunshine, Vesuvius in the mist, may be unforgettable. But that’s not what this book is about. Somehow lodged under the rubric of nonfiction, this is no more a travel book about Naples than Death in Venice is a guide to the old city on the Adriatic lagoon. As Hofstadter’s subtitle suggests, it’s a romance with a felicitous setting and a characteristic supporting cast. In the background, there are the roaring Vespas and the busy piazzas, the tripe “dripping over the tripe altars,” the lotto-betting and the colorful native Neapolitans. There’s Donato, the wedding photographer; Luca, the hustler with his inflatable crèche; Michele and Salvatore, the geographers of subterranean Naples; Gigi, the stuttering actor; Gennaro, the radio soothsayer. Co-starring with the author, who takes the classic role of ex-pat writer, is mysterious, fetching Benedetta. The story he tells of their transitory reunion after a three-year hiatus is relayed with a cinematic attraction. Chapter headings (“The Letter,” “Signora Perna and the Other World,” “Benedetta in Springtime”) are redolent of his tale, which, in truth, fits somewhere in the literary twilight betwixt factual personal history and engaging fictive memory.

The author’s recollection of the love he found and left in Napoli, artfully told.

Pub Date: Nov. 21, 2005

ISBN: 0-375-41440-1

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2005

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NUTCRACKER

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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IN MY PLACE

From the national correspondent for PBS's MacNeil-Lehrer Newshour: a moving memoir of her youth in the Deep South and her role in desegregating the Univ. of Georgia. The eldest daughter of an army chaplain, Hunter-Gault was born in what she calls the ``first of many places that I would call `my place' ''—the small village of Due West, tucked away in a remote little corner of South Carolina. While her father served in Korea, Hunter-Gault and her mother moved first to Covington, Georgia, and then to Atlanta. In ``L.A.'' (lovely Atlanta), surrounded by her loving family and a close-knit black community, the author enjoyed a happy childhood participating in activities at church and at school, where her intellectual and leadership abilities soon were noticed by both faculty and peers. In high school, Hunter-Gault found herself studying the ``comic-strip character Brenda Starr as I might have studied a journalism textbook, had there been one.'' Determined to be a journalist, she applied to several colleges—all outside of Georgia, for ``to discourage the possibility that a black student would even think of applying to one of those white schools, the state provided money for black students'' to study out of state. Accepted at Michigan's Wayne State, the author was encouraged by local civil-rights leaders to apply, along with another classmate, to the Univ. of Georgia as well. Her application became a test of changing racial attitudes, as well as of the growing strength of the civil-rights movement in the South, and Gault became a national figure as she braved an onslaught of hostilities and harassment to become the first black woman to attend the university. A remarkably generous, fair-minded account of overcoming some of the biggest, and most intractable, obstacles ever deployed by southern racists. (Photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-374-17563-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1992

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