story turns out. (30 b&w photos)



Nobly told saga of how a provincial outsider, bucking family and establishment mistrust, fashioned himself into France's

most daring 19th-century composer. Dr. Berlioz, justly portrayed by Cairns as a devoted father, never stopped decrying his son's rejection of medicine for music. But Hector Berlioz (1803–69), taking Gluck, then Beethoven as spiritual mentors, recognized his calling early, a process that Cairns fleshes out here with piquant asides: What prefigures the critic-creator better than the unwilling med student singing arias during dissections? Young Berlioz is shown beset by his split nature, a Romantic simultaneously driven by fire (or "spleen"), while observed by his alter ego with classical detachment. The factions of musical Paris set the stage for the swift-maturing apprentice's contretemps with the conservative Conservatoire: Cairns examines how Berlioz's orchestrally conceived compositions (where rhythmic complexity plays off timbral polyphony) outraged the status quo. There was no point, however, in trying "to break the magnetic needle because you can't stop it obeying the attraction of the poles"—and at length the weary judges granted Berlioz the Prix de Rome. His travels, mapped out with high local color, furnished matter for his entire oeuvre. The pithy letter-writer and pungent reviewer (ever the composer's advocate) corroborates the gracious narrator-critic and conductor Cairns (The Memoirs of Hector Berlioz, 1969), who has scoured the Berlioz archives for the past 35 years. The tale pauses at the reappearance of English actress Harriet Smithson: After her Ophelia opened Berlioz's eyes to Shakespeare's glories in 1827, she rejected his advances, thus inspiring the id‚e fixe underpinning the innovative Symphonie Fantastique. The 1832 premiere, excitingly re-created, announced the composer's maturity and duly persuaded her to become Berlioz's partner in ill-starred marriage. A sumptuous feast for lovers of music and biography, this volume feeds the appetite to learn the reasons behind how the

story turns out. (30 b&w photos)

Pub Date: March 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-520-22199-0

Page Count: 616

Publisher: Univ. of California

Review Posted Online: May 3, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2000

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Possibly inspired by the letters Cleary has received as a children's author, this begins with second-grader Leigh Botts' misspelled fan letter to Mr. Henshaw, whose fictitious book itself derives from the old take-off title Forty Ways W. Amuse a Dog. Soon Leigh is in sixth grade and bombarding his still-favorite author with a list of questions to be answered and returned by "next Friday," the day his author report is due. Leigh is disgruntled when Mr. Henshaw's answer comes late, and accompanied by a set of questions for Leigh to answer. He threatens not to, but as "Mom keeps nagging me about your dumb old questions" he finally gets the job done—and through his answers Mr. Henshaw and readers learn that Leigh considers himself "the mediumest boy in school," that his parents have split up, and that he dreams of his truck-driver dad driving him to school "hauling a forty-foot reefer, which would make his outfit add up to eighteen wheels altogether. . . . I guess I wouldn't seem so medium then." Soon Mr. Henshaw recommends keeping a diary (at least partly to get Leigh off his own back) and so the real letters to Mr. Henshaw taper off, with "pretend," unmailed letters (the diary) taking over. . . until Leigh can write "I don't have to pretend to write to Mr. Henshaw anymore. I have learned to say what I think on a piece of paper." Meanwhile Mr. Henshaw offers writing tips, and Leigh, struggling with a story for a school contest, concludes "I think you're right. Maybe I am not ready to write a story." Instead he writes a "true story" about a truck haul with his father in Leigh's real past, and this wins praise from "a real live author" Leigh meets through the school program. Mr. Henshaw has also advised that "a character in a story should solve a problem or change in some way," a standard juvenile-fiction dictum which Cleary herself applies modestly by having Leigh solve his disappearing lunch problem with a burglar-alarmed lunch box—and, more seriously, come to recognize and accept that his father can't be counted on. All of this, in Leigh's simple words, is capably and unobtrusively structured as well as valid and realistic. From the writing tips to the divorced-kid blues, however, it tends to substitute prevailing wisdom for the little jolts of recognition that made the Ramona books so rewarding.

Pub Date: Aug. 22, 1983

ISBN: 143511096X

Page Count: 133

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 16, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1983

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...



Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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