TEMPERAMENTS

ARTISTS FACING THEIR WORK

For The New Yorker, Hofstadter has taken over the role Calvin Tomkins used to fill—as art chronicler: half critic/half profile- maker. And at this he is very, very good. In the five long pieces collected here—about Jean Helion, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Avigdor Arikha, David Bomberg and the subsequent generation of London painters (Kossof, Kitaj, etc.), and Richard Diebenkorn—he almost negligently scatters brilliant associational perceptions (why, for example, Cartier-Bresson the photojournalist was hardly different from C-B the surrealist: the same ``cretinous voyaging'') while being cannier than most art writers about the varieties and dilemmas—glorious both—of representational painting. He also writes (occasionally he posturingly overwrites) with a genuinely beautiful style. But what is a little disconcerting is the form of the articles: Hofstadter seems to appear in the company of the artists he writes about here not exactly as a journalist but as an instant intimate or friend; there is an air of relaxed offhandedness (``I got to know Richard Diebenkorn in 1986, a few years before he and his wife, Phyllis, moved from Santa Monica to Healdsburg, in northern California. Dick was already sixty-five then but a lot of his strict, formal, well-to-do Protestant background still showed''). This self-conscious relaxation of role carries over as well into what he has to say about the painters: He has scorn finally for the Londoners (``dungeon masters'') on account of their all-or-nothing aesthetic neuroticism and battles with life, while reserving his highest admiration for the artist who, like Diebenkorn, is serious without solemnity. Deflation of high artistic pretension and behavior in favor of pragmatic dilution always has been, editorially, a New Yorker stock-in-trade—and Hofstadter is particularly good at it. But the attractiveness of the interesting men (and most often quite interesting artists too) that he writes about seems finally more about personal style than art.

Pub Date: April 7, 1992

ISBN: 0-395-58111-3

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1992

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Skilled and graceful exploration of the soul of an astonishing human being.

MOUNTAINS BEYOND MOUNTAINS

Full-immersion journalist Kidder (Home Town, 1999, etc.) tries valiantly to keep up with a front-line, muddy-and-bloody general in the war against infectious disease in Haiti and elsewhere.

The author occasionally confesses to weariness in this gripping account—and why not? Paul Farmer, who has an M.D. and a Ph.D. from Harvard, appears to be almost preternaturally intelligent, productive, energetic, and devoted to his causes. So trotting alongside him up Haitian hills, through international airports and Siberian prisons and Cuban clinics, may be beyond the capacity of a mere mortal. Kidder begins with a swift account of his first meeting with Farmer in Haiti while working on a story about American soldiers, then describes his initial visit to the doctor’s clinic, where the journalist felt he’d “encountered a miracle.” Employing guile, grit, grins, and gifts from generous donors (especially Boston contractor Tom White), Farmer has created an oasis in Haiti where TB and AIDS meet their Waterloos. The doctor has an astonishing rapport with his patients and often travels by foot for hours over difficult terrain to treat them in their dwellings (“houses” would be far too grand a word). Kidder pauses to fill in Farmer’s amazing biography: his childhood in an eccentric family sounds like something from The Mosquito Coast; a love affair with Roald Dahl’s daughter ended amicably; his marriage to a Haitian anthropologist produced a daughter whom he sees infrequently thanks to his frenetic schedule. While studying at Duke and Harvard, Kidder writes, Farmer became obsessed with public health issues; even before he’d finished his degrees he was spending much of his time in Haiti establishing the clinic that would give him both immense personal satisfaction and unsurpassed credibility in the medical worlds he hopes to influence.

Skilled and graceful exploration of the soul of an astonishing human being.

Pub Date: Sept. 16, 2003

ISBN: 0-375-50616-0

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2003

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A fun, educational book which can be enjoyed in and out of the kitchen.

MY HOUSE CHEF

: COOKING WITH LORY AND MAZEL

This highly original children’s cookbook is full of delicious and imaginative recipes, but could benefit from adding healthier and lower-fat alternative recipes.

Whether it’s a beef-filled zucchini boat riding atop a sea of blue spaghetti or fudge cars with gumdrop wheels and lollipop passengers, these fanciful recipes are sure to tempt children. Lory and Mazel are two cartoon mice who guide the reader through the book, donning various costumes according to the theme of each recipe. Children will love the mix of photos, cartoons and colorful graphics. Though many recipes include healthy ingredients, many also contain heavy cream and/or sugar, and white bread is the preferred choice over wheat. A great addition would be healthier versions of these dishes, listing the percentage of daily recommended vitamins, and number of fat and sugar grams in each. But there’s more to the book than simply recipes–a chart lists the approximate recommended serving sizes for children from ages six to 12 in clever, kid-friendly terms. For example, one serving of grain would be half a medium bagel or approximately the size of a hockey puck. Vidal explains the metric and imperial systems of measurement, and gives a lesson given on vitamins and the effect they have on our health. The author also includes a page identifying various kitchen utensils in charming illustrations. For children–and adults–who are flummoxed about proper place settings, there’s a diagram explaining the function and placement of each plate, bowl and utensil. The recipes provide illustrated step-by-step directions, pointing out techniques which may require parental help or supervision. Parents seeking a quick dinner or snack should be forewarned–many of these recipes not only require mixing food colors, but involve some complicated assembly.

A fun, educational book which can be enjoyed in and out of the kitchen.

Pub Date: June 1, 2009

ISBN: 978-1-4389-7697-6

Page Count: -

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 23, 2010

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