An exhaustive account of Hurok's life (1888-1974) and career that disputes the ballet/music presenter's own version (S. Hurok Presents, 1953). Robinson (Sergei Prokofiev, 1987) wants to show a lonely, self-important man: Hurok's family life as pictured here was notable for the distance Hurok kept from wives (the first was discarded for being too ``old country'') and daughter (Isaac Stern seems the only friend who really liked Hurok). But no one can dispute the career: the ``humble boyhood in the oppressed Old Country,'' as Hurok portrayed it, through ``enterprising youth in opportunity-rich America, prosperous and useful adulthood.'' Hurok started out in the 1920's as a ballet presenter to an uninitiated US public. Anna Pavlova was one of his first big artists, and Robinson interjects his own prejudices into that relationship: ``that a deeply spiritual, frequently prudish, and rigorously circumspect woman like Pavlova would ever have entered into a sexual liaison with a squat, ill-spoken, and nearly illiterate Jewish immigrant like Hurok seems highly improbable.'' Robinson follows Hurok's development as a musical presenter even as his ballet work floundered—his total dismissal of American dance led to ongoing feuds with Agnes de Mille and Lucia Chase. Robinson seems reluctant to give Hurok credit (indeed, he often doesn't seem to like his subject), but he does admire the publicity and pressure tactics leading to Marian Anderson's historic concert at the Lincoln Memorial. Hurok's last big triumph was importing Soviet acts during the cold war; it led, however, to the 1972 bombing of his New York office by the Jewish Defense League: friends and associates agreed that this was the beginning of Hurok's physical decline. He died two years later, in his 80s. Hurok was the last of his kind; and Robinson does shed a lot more light than earlier quasi-autobiographies. A sometimes wobbly accounting but, overall, worthwhile.

Pub Date: March 1, 1994

ISBN: 0-670-82529-8

Page Count: 544

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1994

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...



Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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Possibly inspired by the letters Cleary has received as a children's author, this begins with second-grader Leigh Botts' misspelled fan letter to Mr. Henshaw, whose fictitious book itself derives from the old take-off title Forty Ways W. Amuse a Dog. Soon Leigh is in sixth grade and bombarding his still-favorite author with a list of questions to be answered and returned by "next Friday," the day his author report is due. Leigh is disgruntled when Mr. Henshaw's answer comes late, and accompanied by a set of questions for Leigh to answer. He threatens not to, but as "Mom keeps nagging me about your dumb old questions" he finally gets the job done—and through his answers Mr. Henshaw and readers learn that Leigh considers himself "the mediumest boy in school," that his parents have split up, and that he dreams of his truck-driver dad driving him to school "hauling a forty-foot reefer, which would make his outfit add up to eighteen wheels altogether. . . . I guess I wouldn't seem so medium then." Soon Mr. Henshaw recommends keeping a diary (at least partly to get Leigh off his own back) and so the real letters to Mr. Henshaw taper off, with "pretend," unmailed letters (the diary) taking over. . . until Leigh can write "I don't have to pretend to write to Mr. Henshaw anymore. I have learned to say what I think on a piece of paper." Meanwhile Mr. Henshaw offers writing tips, and Leigh, struggling with a story for a school contest, concludes "I think you're right. Maybe I am not ready to write a story." Instead he writes a "true story" about a truck haul with his father in Leigh's real past, and this wins praise from "a real live author" Leigh meets through the school program. Mr. Henshaw has also advised that "a character in a story should solve a problem or change in some way," a standard juvenile-fiction dictum which Cleary herself applies modestly by having Leigh solve his disappearing lunch problem with a burglar-alarmed lunch box—and, more seriously, come to recognize and accept that his father can't be counted on. All of this, in Leigh's simple words, is capably and unobtrusively structured as well as valid and realistic. From the writing tips to the divorced-kid blues, however, it tends to substitute prevailing wisdom for the little jolts of recognition that made the Ramona books so rewarding.

Pub Date: Aug. 22, 1983

ISBN: 143511096X

Page Count: 133

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 16, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1983

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