VENUS BOUND

THE EROTIC VOYAGES OF THE OLYMPIA PRESS

A between-the-covers look at the Parisian Olympia Press of Maurice Girodias, the man Vladimir Nabokov (whom he published) called the ``Olympian Pornologist.'' De St. Jorre labels him ``the Mr. Micawber of publishing.'' Facing a dizzying array of eccentrics, scandals, feuds, and conflicting testimonies, journalist de St. Jorre (The Marines, not reviewed) admirably sorts out the evidence from accounts already put to paper, adding his own interviews with surviving employees and authors. The resulting narrative is a highly readable, colorful picaresque of publishing. The tale begins with the Obelisk Press, founded by Girodias's father, an Englishman named Jack Kahane. In the 1930s Obelisk published Henry Miller's Tropic of Cancer and Lawrence Durrell's first novel, as well as risquÇ potboilers. After the war, Girodias launched the Olympia Press with the hard-core ``Traveller's Companion'' series of ``D.B.'s'' (Dirty Books), featuring titles like Whips Incorporated and Lust, written by assorted flamboyant English and American bohemians. Girodias became even more notorious when he issued the translation of The Story of O (de St. Jorre unravels the true story of the book's genesis with aplomb). As a doubtful haven for ``unpublishable'' writers, the Olympia Press ironically attracted notable work from Nabokov (Lolita) and William S. Burroughs (Naked Lunch). But despite his writers' notoriety, the groundbreaking censorship cases were fought and won by others. Girodias's questionable business practices—such as verbal contracts and irregular royalties—landed him more often in lawsuits with his authors than with the censors. The crowning feud surrounded The Ginger Man: Girodias and J.P. Donleavy spent 20 years suing each other over US and British publishing rights, until Donleavy's wife dramatically bought the bankrupt press at auction in 1970, effectively ending the dispute and sending Girodias into publishing exile. De St. Jorre shows the mercurial Girodias in all his guises- -debonair publisher, avant-garde patron, and unscrupulous opportunist. (b&w photos and sketches, not seen)

Pub Date: June 5, 1996

ISBN: 0-679-44336-3

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1996

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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A PEOPLE'S HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

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