BREAK ON THROUGH

THE LIFE AND DEATH OF JIM MORRISON

Tortured visionary and bumbling drunk—two sides of ``The Lizard King'' that emerge from this lengthy but less-than-probing biography of the late rock star. Riordan (a Rolling Stone contributor) and Prochnicky (a self-professed veteran Morrison scholar) attempt to retrace Morrison's ``aural, visual, and psychological journey'' through ``a fun house mirror'' of Sixties-style metaphysics. They recount Morrison's repressive childhood under a Navy captain father, his youth as school misfit and troublemaker, his post-college life as a Venice beach-bum, and his subsequent descent into an acid- inspired ``spiritual netherworld.'' Morrison comes across as an insecure but creatively driven man prone to extreme mood swings, and an emotional manipulator who ``enjoyed dangling people from his own self-styled parapet.'' In some respects, he seems a hippie Oscar Wilde who strove for recognition as a serious poet only after establishing a notorious persona. But it is less the star and more the martyr that surfaces here, with gruesome accounts of Morrison being beaten by cops, lambasted by finicky critics, verbally abused by audiences, and incessantly drained by a neurotic girlfriend. Riordan and Prochnicky try to bolster the Morrison mythos by mentioning his love of Nietzsche, romantic attachment to shamanism, undying interest in film history, and gift for surrealist thinking that nurtured his work but abetted his ``failing to draw the line between art and life, business and pleasure, self-instruction and self-destruction.'' Unfortunately, they sidestep any fresh or bold interpretations of Morrison's mystique, resorting to redundant drugstore psychologisms and a disturbing zeal to discount any allegations of Morrison's thinly veiled homosexual side. Worse, the authors promise to delve into Morrison's subtle lyrics but opt instead for shallow and rushed summaries. Candid and articulate but essentially a star-struck reminiscence that fails to transcend the packaged legend. For more compact and worthy biographies of Morrison, see David Dalton's Mr. Mojo Risin' and Dylan Jones's Jim Morrison (p. 466). (Twenty-five b&w photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: June 13, 1991

ISBN: 0-688-08829-5

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 1991

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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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