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An insightful and entertaining, if philosophically uneven, memoir.

A lawyer recounts his eventful professional exploits.

Wood (Presidential Intentions, 2014) was a peripatetic army brat who grew up in eight different houses over the course of his childhood. His father, he says, was a highly decorated soldier whose intemperate drinking devolved into alcoholism after a tragic accident left Wood’s mother a quadriplegic. The author writes that he was a shiftless student, but he made it into the first freshman class of the new Franklin Pierce Law Center (now part of the University of New Hampshire), founded in 1973, and subsequently earned a law degree from New York University in 1977. He worked for more than 30 years as an attorney in the advertising and entertainment industries, running his own firm at one point. He also worked as the “chief negotiator for the advertising industry,” he says, overseeing its collective bargaining arrangements with the Screen Actors Guild. This memoir is more of an impressionistic collage of vignettes than a thorough autobiography, although it generally unfolds in a chronological, linear fashion. Many of Wood’s remembrances are intimately revealing; for example, he reflects poignantly on the deaths of his mother and father, and lovingly relates the courtship of his wife of 35 years, whom he met in fifth grade. The focus of his reminiscences, though, is his legal career, which had its share of drama. The book’s longest memory reads like a comic tale of espionage, in which he’s exposed to danger in Poland and Cuba while representing the Phillips Beverage Company. Wood’s prose is crisp and anecdotal, and he’s refreshingly unafraid to poke fun at his misadventures. Not all his stories are equally gripping, but many are lighthearted and amusing; for example, he tells of unintentionally paying $14,000 at auction for a cigar humidor signed by Arnold Schwarzenegger. Wood often draws lessons from his experiences, summarized in the concluding chapter, which seems infused with a misanthropic cynicism similar to his father’s, who said, “Remember this. People are no damn good.” However, contradictorily, Wood also imparts several tales of astonishingly good people, including a law school dean who volunteered to pay the author’s tuition. 

An insightful and entertaining, if philosophically uneven, memoir.

Pub Date: June 26, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-9988617-2-2

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Plum Bay Publishing, LLC

Review Posted Online: May 7, 2018

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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 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1996

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An extravaganza in Bemelmans' inimitable vein, but written almost dead pan, with sly, amusing, sometimes biting undertones, breaking through. For Bemelmans was "the man who came to cocktails". And his hostess was Lady Mendl (Elsie de Wolfe), arbiter of American decorating taste over a generation. Lady Mendl was an incredible person,- self-made in proper American tradition on the one hand, for she had been haunted by the poverty of her childhood, and the years of struggle up from its ugliness,- until she became synonymous with the exotic, exquisite, worshipper at beauty's whrine. Bemelmans draws a portrait in extremes, through apt descriptions, through hilarious anecdote, through surprisingly sympathetic and understanding bits of appreciation. The scene shifts from Hollywood to the home she loved the best in Versailles. One meets in passing a vast roster of famous figures of the international and artistic set. And always one feels Bemelmans, slightly offstage, observing, recording, commenting, illustrated.

Pub Date: Feb. 23, 1955

ISBN: 0670717797

Page Count: -

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 25, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1955

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