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A deaf editor-writer learns to fly and pilots a Cessna cross- country in a nostalgic search for self and the grass-roots camaraderie that he says is waning in society but still survives in general aviation. Having begun to experience a sort of midlife doldrums, Chicago Sun-Times book-review editor Kisor (What's That Pig Outdoors? A Memoir of Deafness, 1990, etc.) purchased a small 30-year-old Cessna 150 in which he retraced the transcontinental path of a celebrated early aviator, Cal Rodgers. Rodgers was himself a victim of hearing loss when he made the trip, in 1911, in a canvas-covered plane built by the Wright brothers. Eighty-some years later, as the Simpson trial enthralled the world, Kisor barnstormed from airfield to airfield in dogged pursuit of Rodgers's spirit. Telling two stories in one, Kisor intersperses the narrative of his own day-to- day experience with parallel descriptions of Rodgers's travels, which included numerous crashes, emergency landings, and breakdowns. Kisor can't hear, but he can lip-read, and he can speak and thus transmit radio messages. His deafness adds an element of complexity and danger to a journey that, today, is an otherwise fairly mundane exercise, but his own story, by inevitable comparison to Rodgers's, though it does offer some interesting aviation folk, lacks an urgent sense of drama. There's a bit too much description of airport FBO (fixed base operations) facilities and hosts; routine flight plans filed, completed, and closed out; and mostly friendly airport and service-industry personnel whom he meets during frequent stops along his course. For Kisor, a self- described political liberal of conservative behavior and friends, who resists being labeled as handicapped, flying is, ever and always, an exercise of independence. A relaxing armchair entertainment, and an empowering tale for readers who face any kind of physical deficit. (16 pages b&w photos) (Author tour)

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 1997

ISBN: 0-465-02425-4

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Basic Books

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1997

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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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