Readers may feel themselves responding as her college acquaintances did: “my problems and I were a burden. ‘You’re too...

Journalist and erstwhile YA author Hale offers six previously published essays gathered in an apparent attempt to prove the collection’s title.

The title springs from events described in a 2014 Guardian piece called “Am I Being Catfished?” that made news in literary circles, when the author became so obsessed with a negative Goodreads review of her first YA book, No One Else Can Have You (2013), that she burrowed into the reviewer’s online identity and physically tracked her down to confront her. Slightly reworked as “Catfish,” that essay leads off this collection. In the others, Hale recounts a hunting trip to Okeechobee in which she “stabbed the shit out of” a female feral hog and a separate series of futile efforts to track down and kill a mountain lion in Hollywood’s Griffith Park; one reporting trip to the Miss America pageant and another to Snowflake, Arizona, to profile a community of people suffering from “environmental illness”; and, most poignantly, the rape she endured at a sketchy massage parlor on the same day she moved into her freshman dorm at Harvard, an event that warped her college years and, by implication, perhaps her adult life. Hale weaves references to her own mental illness throughout the collection, describing how, after the publication of “Am I Being Catfished?” “I went bananas. I lost my mind,” took a knife to her wrists, and spent some time in a psychiatric hospital. For all her seeming forthcomingness, however, the author rarely gives readers anything other than what feels like an intentionally curated sense of Kathleen Hale, crazy stalker. The essays don’t work as well together thematically as she perhaps hopes they do, an effect intensified by her caginess as to the timeline of both events recounted and the essays’ original publication dates.

Readers may feel themselves responding as her college acquaintances did: “my problems and I were a burden. ‘You’re too much,’ they said. And they were right; I was impossible.”

Pub Date: June 4, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-8021-2909-3

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Grove

Review Posted Online: March 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2019



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

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