BABY PRECIOUS ALWAYS SHINES by Gertrude Stein

BABY PRECIOUS ALWAYS SHINES

Selected Love Notes Between Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas
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KIRKUS REVIEW

The domestic correspondence between Mr. Cuddle-Wuddle (Stein) and Baby Precious (Toklas) reveals the inner hearts and inner workings of the 20th century’s most famous lesbian marriage. Over their 39 years together, Stein and Toklas left little notes to each other, snippets of poetry and passion which, awash in love and devotion, commemorate the pair’s daily doings. Rife with affection and candor, Stein’s late-night scribblings to her beloved touch upon the heights of their love; its nether-regions, however, are also adumbrated when Stein, for example, comments (all too often) upon the frequency and consistency of Toklas’s bowel movements. Other fragments touch with endearing frankness upon their sex lives, as when Stein self-consciously whips up her phallic pen to fill Toklas with carnal pleasures. A London honeymoon, the pressures of the world wars, flowers, and cigarettes decorate these valentines with the quotidian aura of their lives, and even when the occasional tiff looms, one can hardly doubt the sincerity of the affection described. Photographs, sketches, shipping labels, and receipts, which are printed alongside the notes, round out this intimate view into the women’s lives. For scholars of Stein, the giddy wordplay of the notes illuminates her previously published work as well as the details and desires of her life. Though this collection holds obvious interest for both Stein’s fans and scholars, it offers only approximately one-third of the extant 312 notes (295 of them from Stein, 17 from Toklas) with no annotations to complement Turner’s brief introduction. Though it is somewhat jarring to adjust one’s perception of Gertrude Stein to include her alter ego Mr. Cuddle-Wuddle, the effort provides many warm examples of her genius and her heart. The collection makes a convincing case for Toklas’s assertion that “notes are a very beautiful form of literature”—personal, provocative, and tender.

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1999
ISBN: 0-312-19832-9
Page count: 176pp
Publisher: St. Martin's
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15th, 1999




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