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A spiritual autobiography in the form of a novelist's memoir about losing his lover to AIDS. What can you say about a book that makes you cry on page 3? That it does so again on page 4 complicates the reviewer's job further. Nevertheless, this is not a tearjerker: Johnson's (Scissors, Paper, Rock, 1993, etc.) memoir is a moving expansion of the genre. The last of nine children in a devoutly Catholic rural Kentucky family, Johnson was initially the pursued and not the pursuer in the relationship he memorializes here. Larry Rose's background—San Francisco high school English teacher, the only child of German-Jewish Holocaust survivors—could scarcely have been more dissimilar. Johnson resists entanglement: Larry is HIV- positive, and he legitimately fears having his life taken over by responsibility for Larry's care once he develops AIDS. He also fears the pain of becoming attached to someone he will lose. What he discovers is that being in love with Larry transforms him. As Johnson writes in an extraordinary passage about ministering to Larry on a daring trip to France just days before the invalid's death: ``I understood the shallowness of my fears that I might abandon Larry once he grew sick. Now I only wanted to be with him and to care for him, for in caring for him I was caring for myself. I discovered that I loved even his illness and his dying . . . because they were a part of him; there was no having him without these.'' The labors arising from love, Johnson learns, are not labors. We think of memoirs as retrospective narratives of long lives. Where AIDS is involved, the time frame is very different, the intention more urgent. This profoundly moving, painfully honest book is a remarkable testament to a short life and the enduring love that emerged from it. It deserves the widest possible audience. (Author tour)

Pub Date: May 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-684-81417-X

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 1996

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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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