BLACK SPRING

"Today I am out for another grand obsessional walk. I and myself firmly clued, together. "—A perennial on bookstalls along the Seine for the past 25 years, Black Spring is one of the few books you could read on your deathbed for a sure last laugh. It's an autobiography about Brooklyn (circa 1915 or so) and Paris in the Thirties. It is also a very great book, in a way that the two Tropics never quite are. No one, including Thomas Wolfe, has ever described Brooklyn with the gusto Miller lavishes upon every storefront and shifty citizen. His depiction of a tailor shop he worked in has more wriggling life crammed into fifty pages than most writers get into five hundred. Here, too, is a panoramic ode to the human bladder that would make Whitman kick his kitchen table with envy. Always right, Black Spring's first 147 pages are probably the best Miller ever wrote, with little gratuitous sex but enough adrenalin for a horserace. The book falls down grotesquely during the last hundred pages, going off into murky surrealism, disordered Bosch-like imaginings and a general somnambulism common to vampire movies. But even encumbered with this, Miller's autobiography is superior self-revelation, in a bloomy-minded prose of matchless vigor. Maybe it's not for everybody, but if you like it wildly. One opinion: Imperishable.

Pub Date: April 4, 1963

ISBN: 0802131824

Page Count: 264

Publisher: Grove

Review Posted Online: April 4, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1963

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NUTCRACKER

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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TO THE ONE I LOVE THE BEST

EPISODES FROM THE LIFE OF LADY MENDL (ELSIE DE WOLFE)

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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