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Even the most sophisticated readers will learn much from these erudite perambulations.

The renowned novelist (The Married Man, 2000, etc.) offers an intensely personal portrait of one of the world’s great metropolises.

A big city, White quotes “a reckless friend” as saying, is “a place where there are blacks, tall buildings and you can stay up all night.” Paris fills the bill—and besides, the author adds on his own account, there you can buy heroin, “hear preposterous theories that are closely held and furiously argued,” and see some of the world’s most satisfying architecture. Above all else, White observes, Paris is a walker’s city—not a “village” like Rome or a “backwater” like Zürich, but a city whose bounds can comfortably be traversed in a long evening’s stroll. Himself an accomplished flâneur (stroller) in a city full of them, White offers notes on the grammar of the Parisian street, which is markedly unlike that of a street in, say, New York: “Americans,” he writes, “consider the sidewalk an anonymous backstage space, whereas for the French it is the stage itself.” Passing along arrondissements and îles and boulevards, White takes a sidelong view at French culture, with its marked tolerance for African-Americans but disdain for Africans, especially Arabs, and its astounding history of anti-Semitism; its pretensions to greatness and its frequent attainment of the same; and its seeming invulnerability to shock at any of the flesh’s various gratifications. White, a pioneer of gay literature, spends portions of his book strolling through the homosexual demimonde of Paris, which is at once less self-conscious and more embattled than homosexual communities elsewhere. His book, however, should by no means be confined to the gay-lit shelves, for it provides sophisticated reflections on a city dear to so many travelers that has seen its day but retains its allure.

Even the most sophisticated readers will learn much from these erudite perambulations.

Pub Date: March 1, 2001

ISBN: 1-58234-135-4

Page Count: 214

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 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 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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