A powerful prose-poem whose subject is the language of love—and the poet who sang in no other tongue. (8 pages b&w...



A passionate paean to the writer Epstein calls “America’s foremost love poet.”

In a terrific volume that supplements rather than supplants Nancy Milford’s Savage Beauty (p. 788), Epstein (Nat King Cole, 1999, etc.) presents Millay (1892–1950) as an erotic dynamo whose serial sexual encounters and rich love life inspired her finest poems, which he praises with a lexicon of superlatives. Like Milford (who appears twice as the “other biographer”), Epstein consulted the huge Millay archive (some 20,000 uncatalogued documents) housed at the Library of Congress since the 1986 death of Norma Millay Ellis, sister of the poet and literary executrix. (Milford had examined them years earlier at the Millay home.) Epstein begins on a night in 1911 with a riveting account of the nubile, nightgowned Millay writing in her notebook and chanting by candlelight. He then leaps backward to the story of mother Cora Millay before settling into a chronology from which he does not often deviate. As much as Epstein admires the poems, he can barely restrain his passion for the poet herself. “With her big green eyes and her spectacular floor-length, golden-red hair,” he writes of the teenaged Millay, “she looked like a lovely Celtic fairy.” Later, he writes eloquently about her breasts, her come-hither look, and that hair, a clipping of which once caused an observer to faint. (He reveals that nude photographs will be available for scholarly inspection in 2010.) Epstein is a phrasemaker, consistently delighting with apposite metaphors and piquant comments on her verse. He chronicles her wild years at Vassar, her cometary appearance in the literary sky with “Renascence” (1912), her arrest supporting Sacco and Vanzetti, her Pulitzer, and her enormous popularity. He accuses academic critics—who have often disdained Millay—of doing her “a grave injustice, mistaking clarity and unity for triviality.” With great compassion, he charts Millay’s sad decline into alcoholism, drug addiction, and depression.

A powerful prose-poem whose subject is the language of love—and the poet who sang in no other tongue. (8 pages b&w photos, not seen)

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2001

ISBN: 0-8050-6727-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2001

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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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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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