The last of Wilson's five volumes of journals is as entertaining and full of gossipy detail as the first four (The Fifties, 1986, etc.)—and together they form an amazing literary document of the first half of the century. A cosmopolitan intellectual, Wilson knew most of the great cultural figures of his time. The journals are a record of his travels, a compendium of personalities, and a chronicle of his sexual history. Wilson examines himself in depth but is never self- absorbed or particularly mean-spirited. The names tumble across the page: In New York, Wilson hobnobs with Stravinsky, Auden, Kenneth Tynan, and Virgil Thomson, as well as with younger friends Mike Nichols, Jason Epstein, and Penelope Gilliat. In Cambridge, Massachusetts, he socializes with Isaiah Berlin, Arthur Schlesinger, Robert Lowell, and Stuart Hughes; in Wellfleet, he parties with survivors of Cape Cod's bohemian heyday; and in his ancestral home in Talcottville, New York, he displays as much interest in local friends as in his more famous pals. During the 60's, Wilson traveled extensively, and, here, he takes notes in Canada (for his study, O Canada); in Hungary (for his interest in the language); in Israel (for writings on the Dead Sea Scrolls); and in England, France, and Italy (for enjoyment). A self-described "man of the twenties," he nevertheless is sensitive to "nuclear age jitters" and opposes the war in Vietnam. Throughout, he worries about his declining health and failing libido, but he adjusts to old age gracefully, maintaining his lifelong interest in magic and puppetry. Children bring out his best, while stupid people feed his misanthropy. Not only are the extended profiles indelible—a manic Robert Lowell; a dazzlingly witty Elaine May— but the short-takes are unforgettable as well. Paddy Chayefsky is "cheap, conceited, and vulgar"; Tom Wolfe is a "smart-aleck jellybean"; and Susan Sontag is "pretentious." Candor and intelligence come through on every page—in this always absorbing journal by perhaps the last great man of American letters.

Pub Date: July 1, 1993

ISBN: 0-374-26554-2

Page Count: 664

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 1993

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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 20, 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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