Charming enough in small doses, but ultimately irritating and inconsequential.

QUEEN OF THE ROAD

THE TRUE TALE OF 47 STATES, 22,000 MILES, 200 SHOES, 2 CATS, 1 POODLE, A HUSBAND, AND A BUS WITH A WILL OF ITS OWN

How to get away from it all while taking it all with you.

A self-described Jewish princess from Long Island, Orion (Psychiatry/Univ. of Colorado; I Know You really Love Me: A Psychiatrist’s Account of Stalking and Obsessive Love, 1997) grudgingly accompanied her gung-ho husband on a yearlong trek around the country in a converted bus, despite her addiction to designer couture and general disinterest in leaving the house. A series of minor setbacks ensued (malfunctioning door, difficulties parking, etc.), but the journey passed pleasantly enough, as the author learned to prioritize relationships and experiences over material things and engage with the world beyond her television set. Mildly amusing situations and observations abound; Orion is relentlessly quippy, making the book resemble a low-impact remake of the screwball road-trip comedy The Long, Long Trailer with Rita Rudner playing the Lucille Ball role. It’s difficult, however, to sustain interest in the author’s many anecdotes concerning the cute antics of her pets or her beloved husband’s zeal for DIY projects. The material is simply too mundane, and while Orion tries gamely, her employment of goofy puns, warmed-over self-deprecatory shtick and Erma Bombeckian wry homilies fails to transform the proceedings into comic gold. Her spiritual epiphanies likewise grate: Grand renunciation of material pleasures is a bit much coming from someone who can afford to take a year off work and seek out “authentic” experiences from the comforts of a diesel-guzzling luxury recreational vehicle. The book is also unsatisfying as a travelogue, since Orion’s interest remains stubbornly focused on her cozy domestic concerns. The surprising paucity of reportage on local color and customs or the variations in landscape, architecture and cuisine contributes to an overriding atmosphere of twee self-congratulation as the author announces her newfound willingness to hike a mountain path or cut back on her television consumption.

Charming enough in small doses, but ultimately irritating and inconsequential.

Pub Date: June 10, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-7679-2853-3

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Broadway

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2008

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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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