Chew-Bose is an intense observer and cataloger of sensations, but this type of literary impressionism, where self-discovery...

A debut collection of personal essays from a Montreal-born writer.

Chew-Bose is fascinated by life and especially by her response to it. She loves movies, painting, her skin, her name, the sound of her voice, her heart, and just about anything that occurs to her. Her debut is a work of self-examination and memoir, a young writer’s songs of herself. She opens the collection with the ambitious, lengthy “Heart Museum,” which begins as a rumination on the physical and emotional durability of the heart and quickly sidetracks into a hyper-referential stream-of-consciousness stroll through every subject that strikes her fancy, from cinematography to old boyfriends to random family memories to writing. Possibly taking her cue from Chris Marker’s great documentary Sans Soleil, Chew-Bose seems bent on creating an essay that charts a surprising and compelling course despite having no obvious destination. Instead, it becomes an increasingly fetishistic ramble that flies off on various tangents. “Groping through the dark is, in large part, what writing consists of anyway,” she offers at one point, perhaps by way of explanation. “Working through and feeling around the shadows of an idea. Getting pricked. Cursing purity. Threshing out. Scuffing up and peeling away. Feral rearranging. Letting form ferment.” The trend toward navel-gazing continues in the subsequent essays, but some also profit from a sharper, more direct focus, especially when the author addresses what it means—as a young woman from an Indian family growing up in mostly white Canada—to come to terms with cultural identity: “Nothing will make you fit in less than trying, constantly, to fit in: portioning your name, straightening your hair, developing a love-hate fascination to white moms whose pantries were stocked differently than yours, who touched your hair, admiring ‘how thick’ it was.”

Chew-Bose is an intense observer and cataloger of sensations, but this type of literary impressionism, where self-discovery becomes self-absorption, wears thin.

Pub Date: April 11, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-374-53595-7

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Feb. 20, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2017



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




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

Close Quickview