HENRY MILLER AND JAMES LAUGHLIN

SELECTED LETTERS

The fifth in the series of correspondence between avant-garde New Directions publisher Laughlin and his authors presents a slightly less intimate relationship (and less interesting Miller) but serves to chronicle one facet of Miller's anarchic career. In 1935, when he was still an undergraduate at Harvard and prepared to publish ultramodern writers rather than go into his Pittsburgh family's steel business, Laughlin wrote to the middle-aged author of the banned Tropic of Cancer. The ensuing 44-year correspondence (including others at New Directions, such as the later editor-in-chief Robert MacGregor), brings out unusual personal qualities on both sides. Miller is both comparatively restrained and brief, even in his enthusing suggestion of publishing Siddhartha (which became a New Directions bestseller in the '60s) and his laconic account of his parents' deaths. He also shows the familiar authorial discontent with distribution, sales, promotion, and royalties. The parsimonious Laughlin proves generous in the early years, giving frequent loans and advances, and finally settling on a monthly semisalary for the financially maladroit Miller in lieu of standard royalty payments. Loyally keeping Miller in print, New Directions emerges as cautious but canny, notably during the ban on his notorious books, when they concocted a Henry Miller Reader of permissible material from his works. Editor Wickes (English/Univ. of Oregon; ed., Miller's Letters to Emil, 1989, not reviewed, etc.) supplies a functional introduction, but his notes fluctuate between incomplete and obvious. Although Miller's earlier correspondence was more vital and lusty and his dealing with Grove more controversial, his slightly prickly but perdurable relationship with New Directions spanned both a radical career and a transformation in publishing and literature, as evidenced here.

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-393-03864-5

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1995

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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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