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A relentlessly probing memoir of a search for self-knowledge.

Excavating the past unearths festering wounds.

In this final volume of a trilogy about children of Holocaust survivors, journalist Epstein (Where She Came From: A Daughter’s Search for Her Mother’s History, 1997, etc.) decided to focus on her own “atypical adolescence,” investigating especially how her parents’ trauma had affected her “in the intimate realms of sex and friendship.” The project, she thought naively, “would be easy, even a lark.” She could not have been more wrong. To help her recall details, in 2000, she flew from her home in Massachusetts, where she lived with her husband and sons, to California to reconnect with Robbie, who had been a close family friend and later a lover. Robbie had been a gifted musician, and Epstein had imagined that he would become a “brilliant, charismatic, celebrated” performer. But the 55-year-old man she met was far different: overweight, emotionally volatile, suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome and, he tells her, manic-depression. Although Epstein praises him as her “collaborator and coach,” he often erupted with impatient and harsh remarks. Robbie is just one among many unsympathetic characters populating the memoir. Others include the author’s self-absorbed mother, who had disclosed a shocking revelation the day before Epstein began psychoanalysis; a “narcissistic, patronizing” cousin; and the husband of her nanny, whom she came to believe sexually abused her when she was 3 years old. As soon as she embarked on her journey into the past, Epstein was overcome with grief, frequently weeping, hyperventilating, and falling “into altered states of consciousness.” She decided to have phone sessions with the taciturn therapist Dr. M., who had treated her 20 years before, recording her side of their conversation, enabling her to convey every detail. Candid and penetrating, the memoir nevertheless is overwhelmed by those details, as Epstein meticulously unravels the fabric of her past. Some of her closest friends, she writes, “tired of my doubling back over the same subjects over and over again.” Readers will likely agree.

A relentlessly probing memoir of a search for self-knowledge.

Pub Date: Jan. 8, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-9614696-6-5

Page Count: 250

Publisher: Plunkett Lake Press

Review Posted Online: Oct. 1, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2017

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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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