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Indefatigable literary estate agent Bruccoli (English/Univ. South Carolina, editor of the letters of F. Scott Fitzgerald, John O’Hara, and Vladimir Nabokov) amasses the documentary chronicle of Dickey’s metamorphosis from “scarcely educated jock” to award-winning poet. Despite the wide range of addressees, including Robert Bly, Philip Booth, Donald Hall, Richard Howard, Randall Jarrell, Denise Levertov, and Robert Penn Warren, Dickey is on truly intimate terms—whether aesthetic or personal—with very few. Concerning his art, his most revealing personal statements typically occur in early correspondence with fellow-poet James Wright in the late fifties and the sixties: how Dickey is out to make “a poetry that gives us life: . . . the live imagination as it leaps instinctively toward its inevitable (and perhaps God-ordained) forms”; why he writes about a few significant personal experiences (usually concerning his family) “in order to understand these times and states, and to perpetuate them.” Elsewhere, he relates to Wright vivid descriptions of a brawling debate with Jarrell and a winter deer hunt with friends and his son Christopher, during which Dickey improvised ballads. Unfortunately, in his later (post-Deliverance) letters, his grand-old-man status affords him too many opportunities for self-regarding pronouncements, such as judging fellow Southern writers and young poets. The quotidian aspects of a poetic career—and Bruccoli bluntly describes Dickey as a careerist—are well-documented, from Dickey’s popular speaking engagements and academic postings, through mundane dealings with magazines and publishers, to putting down rivals and sucking up to critics. (In one of the more amusing two-faced incidents, Dickey calls John Hollander “a literary pimp and time-server” but later sympathizes with Hollander about “nit-pickers who balk at your poems.—) For the appetite for life that drives Dickey’s poetry, his letters to his son Christopher, though comparatively few here, are best. In disagreement with Auden, Dickey writes, “Poetry makes plenty happen; it can change your life,” as this passionate and ornery epistolary collection proves.

Pub Date: Nov. 14, 1999

ISBN: 0-375-40419-8

Page Count: 576

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 1999

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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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