97,196 WORDS


The best among these essays should bring Carrère new readers.

A collection of essays by one of France’s most acclaimed nonfiction authors.

Originally published in France in 2016, these pieces, published between 1990 and 2017, encapsulate novelist and filmmaker Carrère’s (The Kingdom, 2018, etc.) career as a journalist who places himself in his writing and subject matter. In the first piece, the author, then a fledgling crime reporter, recounts the trials of three murderers. Then he explores the life of Dr. Jean-Claude Romand, another murderer who “wasn’t even a doctor” and whose “duplicity” lasted for 18 years. In another essay on Romand, the impostor, Carrère writes that he hopes to “emulate” Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood in a book that would recount Romand’s “life from the outside,” noting that the “presence of the observer invariably modifies the observed phenomenon.” He fulfilled that hope in The Adversary (2000). Many of these essays are shorter versions of books Carrère eventually wrote, from a profile of the young, anti-Putin dissident Eduard Limonov to one on a catastrophic tsunami in Sri Lanka. Carrère is always a questioner, probing as he ponders and tries to honestly assess what he sees, hears, and experiences about other people’s lives. He is especially candid in “How I Completely Botched My Interview with Catherine Deneuve,” and he offers an insightful profile of Emmanuel Macron, with whom he was impressed: “When it’s not Hegel he’s quoting, it’s Spinoza.” There is also a piece on the stories of Phillip K. Dick and a brief assessment of an H.P. Lovecraft story full of “Lovecraft’s trademark—fear.” In “Four Days in Davos,” Carrère writes that he “wants to laugh aloud at the endless stream of infatuated, overbilled [economic] statements.” The best piece is the emotional “Letter to a Woman of Calais,” about the plight of migrants, mostly Syrian, in the city by the Chunnel. Their camp, the “Jungle,” is “a nightmare of misery and filth.”

The best among these essays should bring Carrère new readers.

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-374-17820-8

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2019



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

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