An affecting memoir that limns the sometimes bumpy journey to acceptance of one's people and the place they called home. On an assignment in his hometown of Memphis during the mid- 80's, Conaway (Napa, 1990, etc.) realized that his father's bizarre behavior was caused by something more profound than mere aging. The diagnosis of Alzheimer's meant that ``the comfortable melancholy'' Conaway had felt when returning home was replaced by an entirely different emotion—a sense of loss and of opportunities missed forever. This memoir is, in part, an attempt to answer all the questions the author had meant to ask his father but never did. Conaway—a member of the ``nowhere generation'' who grew up between the ``old post-World War Two verities'' and ``the opportunities and dangers inherent in the next social order''—records with wry humor his struggles to assert his independence in a family in which his father—who never completed his degree—dreamed of having a son as an engineer, and his mother—a sometime artist and daughter of a Pulitzer-winning cartoonist—longed for acceptance and fame in a city where social standing was all. The Memphis of Conaway's growing-up years was still in the thrall of the Old South and its rigid code of behavior. Segregation was a given—not only between white and black but between respectable whites and ``white trash'' (Elvis was officially recognized only when his fame attracted money to the city)—and the social life of Conaway and his peers was dominated by debutante balls and fraternity pledges. Old Memphis was a ``quirky'' place that didn't begin to change, the author says, until after the murder of Martin Luther King. Like all visits back home, a mix of humor, irritation, and love—as well as a deeply affecting tribute to a father who ``yearned for an immutable place where people and comforts, even foolish ones, endure.''

Pub Date: May 26, 1993

ISBN: 0-395-62945-4

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1993

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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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