Next book



A tidy synthesis, but not so insightful that it can succeed without the horse’s mouth. (30 b&w photos)

Though top-heavy on the business side, this look at pop idol Billy Joel pulls together many aspects of his life, even if they fail to cohere fully.

With Joel, people come down on one side or the other: he’s a schlock crooner, banal, surrounded by musical hacks, all smoke and mirrors; he’s a piano prodigy, full of bittersweet melodies and wry surprises, who can command a waltz as easily as a torch song, do pop, jazz or swing. Indisputably, he has gotten himself a fair amount of publicity, mostly bad. So he looks like just the stuff for a revealing biography, but the problem is that he won’t cooperate with such a venture. Thus, long-time music journalist Bordowitz (Bad Moon Rising, 1998) is forced to cull his (rather guarded) material from magazines, books and interviews with some of Joel’s associates; his close friends won’t talk about him to strangers. There’s none of the immediacy of hearing from Joel himself, getting the benefit of his hindsight or hearing his take on what it’s like to have “A Matter of Trust” work its way from thin air to the recording studio. Though all the sensational stuff is there—booze, drugs and sex—readers will get some conflicting information on the last one. We read that “Billy. . . seemed to be enjoying the sex and drugs and rock and roll, and increasingly the sex was not with Elizabeth,” she being his first wife. Then, after their divorce, we hear about Joel’s “long-stunted rock and roll libido.” Joel’s business and legal wrangles are largely public record, and that’s where Bordowitz spends considerable time. He also provides a linear history of the artist’s songwriting and performances—and comments he made about both—but, again, the goods are all secondhand. There’s a palpable veil between Bordowitz’s writing and the acts themselves.

A tidy synthesis, but not so insightful that it can succeed without the horse’s mouth. (30 b&w photos)

Pub Date: July 1, 2005

ISBN: 0-8230-8250-4

Page Count: 288

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2005

Next book


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

Next book



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

Close Quickview