``I don't think there is a definitive portrait of Balanchine,'' says longtime New York City Ballet administrator Betty Cage herein. ``Everybody has a different view, a different perspective...all true in certain ways and all lacking in certain ways.'' This collection of more than 75 such perspectives from friends and associates ultimately tells us much more about the contributors than about Balanchine-but is nonetheless entertaining and often riveting. Mason (editor of Ballet Review) does put his finger on why talking about Balanchine reveals so much about the speakers: ``I have never known so many people so eager to talk about a man. Balanchine was clearly a dominant figure to all of them: talking about him explained themselves, relived their careers, made sense of their lives, assimilated the past for the future.'' Throughout, this leads to a seriousness and solemnity in interviews from such widely varied personalities as Alexandra Danilova, Nureyev, Erick Hawkins, Katherine Dunham, and Darci Kistler. Lincoln Kirstein, quoted in a 1933 letter to a friend after first meeting Balanchine, is full of the urgency of having recognized a genius: ``This will be the most important letter I will ever write you...My pen burns my hand...We have a real chance to have an American ballet within 3 years time...'' Mason deftly lets each distinctive voice come through loud and clear. Here is Edward Villella on discussing the essence of gesture with Balanchine: ``At the beginning of the pas de deux, Apollo and Tersichore touch their fingertips together, and I said, `Jeez, that's really very beautiful.' '' And there are plenty of sidelights into dance history that have nothing to do with Balanchine. The ballerina Tamara Geva (Balanchine's first wife) remembers Isadora Duncan: ``I shall never forget her performance: Wagnerian music, with a symphony orchestra down below in the pit, and up on the stage of the Maryinsky this lady stretched out on the floor. She lay there for a long time while we were all waiting for something to happen.'' A massive (640-page), eloquent effort that provides a valuable oral history of the ballet world. If it doesn't add to our knowledge of Balanchine, it does, most importantly, underscore his extraordinary contribution. As Helgi Tomasson, now director of the San Francisco Ballet poignantly captures the elusiveness of dance as well as of Balanchine's genius: ``the farther we get from his leaving us, the less we will remember.''

Pub Date: May 1, 1991

ISBN: 0-385-26610-3

Page Count: 640

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1991

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller


More life reflections from the bestselling author on themes of societal captivity and the catharsis of personal freedom.

In her third book, Doyle (Love Warrior, 2016, etc.) begins with a life-changing event. “Four years ago,” she writes, “married to the father of my three children, I fell in love with a woman.” That woman, Abby Wambach, would become her wife. Emblematically arranged into three sections—“Caged,” “Keys,” “Freedom”—the narrative offers, among other elements, vignettes about the soulful author’s girlhood, when she was bulimic and felt like a zoo animal, a “caged girl made for wide-open skies.” She followed the path that seemed right and appropriate based on her Catholic upbringing and adolescent conditioning. After a downward spiral into “drinking, drugging, and purging,” Doyle found sobriety and the authentic self she’d been suppressing. Still, there was trouble: Straining an already troubled marriage was her husband’s infidelity, which eventually led to life-altering choices and the discovery of a love she’d never experienced before. Throughout the book, Doyle remains open and candid, whether she’s admitting to rigging a high school homecoming court election or denouncing the doting perfectionism of “cream cheese parenting,” which is about “giving your children the best of everything.” The author’s fears and concerns are often mirrored by real-world issues: gender roles and bias, white privilege, racism, and religion-fueled homophobia and hypocrisy. Some stories merely skim the surface of larger issues, but Doyle revisits them in later sections and digs deeper, using friends and familial references to personify their impact on her life, both past and present. Shorter pieces, some only a page in length, manage to effectively translate an emotional gut punch, as when Doyle’s therapist called her blooming extramarital lesbian love a “dangerous distraction.” Ultimately, the narrative is an in-depth look at a courageous woman eager to share the wealth of her experiences by embracing vulnerability and reclaiming her inner strength and resiliency.

Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-0125-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

Did you like this book?

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.


The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

Did you like this book?