A classic. Readers who travel to the Costa Brava will truly feel what Pla has written.

Pla (1897–1981) is considered one of the greatest writers of Catalan language, and this beautiful translation lets English readers glory in the quiet strength of his words.

At age 21, the author decided to change his style of writing—a little less flowery but not quite journalistic—and he began this diary, which begs to be read slowly, calmly and multiple times. At the beginning, he strikes a humble, self-deprecating chord regarding his writing. “If these jottings do escape the flame,” he writes, “perhaps one day a distant relative or curious individual with time on his hands will deign to glance their way.” The first half takes place in the countryside, just north of Barcelona, in 1918. Pla’s law classes in Barcelona have been suspended due to the outbreak of influenza. In the comfort of his family home in Palafrugell or wandering about their farm, he watches, feels, smells and hears all that is beautiful in his Catalonia. The author’s writing is not just about description—that’s too simple a word. He masterfully conveys the actual mushroom-y smell of the earth, the odors, the colors in the egg-yolk sky and the taste of spring in Muscat grapes. His lyrical stories capture the soul of his people: of Gervasi, who blew a conch shell every day to mark dawn, noon and dusk; and of Roldós, the pianist who played Bach at the silent movies. In the second half of the book, the narrative moves to Barcelona as classes resume. Pla chronicles his discovery of the circles of men who talked late into the night, the old defending what is, the young, what ought to be. The author examines boardinghouse life, describes how different shoes squeak and worries if understanding Nietzsche is a step forward or backward.

A classic. Readers who travel to the Costa Brava will truly feel what Pla has written.

Pub Date: March 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-59017-671-9

Page Count: 704

Publisher: New York Review Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 11, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2014



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




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

Close Quickview