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Deliciously gossipy, sometimes catty, yet never mean-spirited: a delightful snapshot of bohemian New York in the mid-20th...

Engaging memoir, completed just before the author’s death in 2001, of his ten years with poet O’Hara.

They met in 1951 and began living together in 1955 in one of those committed-but-not-quite relationships that were common among gay men at the time: “Frank would be made to feel he was more important to me than anyone in my life . . . while I would continue to have my sexual freedom.” LeSueur was a native Californian, survivor of stints as a soldier, an elementary-school teacher, and a “kept boy” who found with O’Hara (1926–66), slightly older and far more sophisticated, with his day job at the Museum of Modern Art and his Abstract Expressionist buddies, the glamorous New York life he had always dreamed of. Together they drank hard, saw a lot of movies, attended classical concerts and the ballet, and hung out with an amazing roster of the city’s brightest talents. John Ashbery, Willem de Kooning, Joan Mitchell, Jackson Pollock, Lee Krasner, Edwin Denby, Robert Motherwell, Ned Rorem, Kenneth Koch, Fairfield Porter, and Tennessee Williams are just a sampling of the famous names lightly dropped in LeSueur’s appealing text, which takes what little organization it has from the O’Hara poems that head each chapter. (Not the least of the pleasures here is the opportunity to rediscover the witty, vigorously colloquial verse of one of the urban experiences’s most enticing bards.) Sometimes LeSueur recalls how or where a poem was written—generally with extreme nonchalance in the midst of the hubbub O’Hara loved—sometimes it prompts more loosely connected reminiscences of a period in their lives or a friendship. The very casual structure occasionally sags dangerously, but it’s always rescued by the charm of LeSueur’s voice, which also brilliantly recaptures a bygone age in homosexual culture when gay men could be out of the closet, even swishy and campy, but only among their bohemian intimates, gay or straight.

Deliciously gossipy, sometimes catty, yet never mean-spirited: a delightful snapshot of bohemian New York in the mid-20th century.

Pub Date: April 1, 2003

ISBN: 0-374-13980-6

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2003

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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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