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An elegant grandmother ponders the erotic side of food and the most delicious aspects of eros. The noted Chilean novelist Allende (The House of the Spirits, 1985; Paula, 1995; etc.) now lives in San Francisco. One day she put on dark sunglasses and a brassy wig and went down to a big porno shop in order to begin research for this "memoir." However, it's not a memoir in the usual sense; the graceful Allende doesn't kiss and tell. She is never crude or exhibitionistic, and she does not seek to shock her gentle readers. She aims to amuse, to titillate, and to entertain us with the lore of food and sex, a few choice morsels from her own experience and fantasy life, and occasionally to advise aspiring seducers and seductresses. This volume—part memoir, part research project, part cookbook—seeks above all to charm the pants off us, literally. And Allende has this ability. The tone of her prose is persuasively warm and inviting, but also down-to-earth: "The shells of oysters, those seductive tears of the sea, which lend themselves to slipping from mouth to mouth like a prolonged kiss, are hell to open. They can be purchased in bottles, but there they look like malignant tumors; in contrast, moist and turgid in their shells they suggest delicate vulvae." The tales and anecdotes she offers whet the appetites; and her tidbits of erotic lore are food at least for thought, and perhaps more. In addition, there are many recipes for sensual cooks, provided by her aged mother, Panchita Llona, and by the novelist's Spanish agent, Carmen Balcells. Illustrations, tastefully sensual, are provided by Robert Schechter. Peden's translation has verve and immediacy. Allende's "erotic meanderings" give pleasure. She has a sure sense of the delicate relations between eros and writing. Her tact amplifies the eros that pornography kills. ($125,000 ad/promo; radio satellite tour)

Pub Date: April 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-06-017590-7

Page Count: 320

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1998

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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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