Malcolm (The Journalist and the Murderer, 1990, etc.) explores psychoanalysis, art, literature, and her native Czechoslovakia in this provocative collection of essays, all of which originally appeared in either The New Yorker or The New York Review of Books. The first third of the book, consisting of four essays on psychoanalysis, plays in a minor key on themes in Malcolm's In the Freud Archives (1984) and Psychoanalysis (1981), including Freud's accidental discovery of transference in the famous ``Dora'' case and attempts by today's practitioners to refurbish the movement's ``sagging and peeling mansion.'' Malcolm's erudition is seen to its best advantage in a series of reviews that cover Milan Kundera; Thomas Eakins; Tom Wolfe; Ved Mehta; V†clav Havel's prison letters to his wife; a memoir of New Guinea; and the now-little-read Victorian Sir Edmund Gosse (letters by Gosse's contemporary defenders, Malcolm says, ``form an authoritative primer on how to write comforting bullshit on demand''). The three extended profiles that conclude the book—on an unorthodox therapist whose session the author observes through a one-way mirror; on Artforum editor Ingrid Sischy; and on a former Czech dissident adjusting to career and political uncertainties in post-Communist Czechoslovakia—show how Malcolm can fascinate as often as she irritates. Her sense of irony sometimes manages to disrupt the placid surface of her lengthy, quote-laden journalism (reading Jay Haley, a writer in the social-science field, ``is like being in the bedroom of a charming cad''). But it can also, for instance, make one wonder why Malcolm feels the New York art world is worth so much attention if so many of its artists and critics, as depicted here, are such pretentious boors. Malcolm at her lucid, informed, sometimes too-clever-by-half best, and minus the questionable journalism characterized by her imbroglios with Fatal Vision author Joe McGinniss and renegade Freud researcher Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-679-41232-8

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 1992

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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 20, 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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