HUNTING MISTER HEARTBREAK

: A DISCOVERY OF AMERICA

Can the US still produce ``some fantastic reversal of fortune, some miraculous transfiguration'' for those who migrate to its shores? In answering this question, graceful English travel writer Raban (For Love and Money, 1989; Coasting, 1987, etc.) finds cockeyed optimism to be unexpectedly resilient in today's seemingly inhospitable American soil. Department from Liverpool, Raban stayed for several months in each of four locations: a sublet Manhattan apartment, a cabin in the woods in small-town Guntersville, Alabama, an apartment in a former Seattle hotel, and a boat in Key West, where the living was easy and the restraints few. Half the enjoyment in following this journey consists of Raban's witty, visceral reactions to his new surroundings. He growls about Macy's switch from its old thrifty middle-class clientele to a more upscale, debt-ridden one; worries that he is drifting toward more instinctive, less rational thinking in the Calvinist-dominated South; and fantasizes about writing a novel about Seattle while brooding that it now has ``the dangerous luster of a promised city.'' Too jaundiced to overlook the instances of violence, greed, and indifference in the Reagan-Bush era, he is also swept along by ``the continuous motion of life in the United States, the striving and becoming.'' And the characters he meets along the way-a Liberian hoping for his own travel agency, a Korean owner of an auto repair shop, an old friend who's taken to shipping drugs in Key West-vividly illustrate the still-seductive allure of a new life in the New World. No Whitmanesque sentimentality here, but a jaunty, perceptive, and remarkably assured report on the American Dream today.

Pub Date: May 8, 1991

ISBN: 0-06-018209-1

Page Count: -

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 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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