TOO SAD TO SING: A Memoir with Postcards by Kenneth S. Brecher

TOO SAD TO SING: A Memoir with Postcards

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Using his lifelong enthusiasm for postcards as a frame, Brecher, director of the Children's Museum in Boston, has produced a brief, gentle, charmingly idiosyncratic memoir that sets the reader thinking, smiling, and reminiscing as the pages turn. Brecher has led a life packed with incident--two years spent among the Wausha Indians of the Amazon; a trek through the Himalayas; interviews with Samuel Beckett and Dolores Del Rio; visits to the Louvre, the Prado, and London's grisly Black Museum--picking up postcards at every turn. Along the way, he has developed a winningly personal view of the world around him. Happily, he is able to express this in stories and images that are often amusing and moving. The story of the postcard that provided the title for his book is a good example of what is most endearing here. Approached by a young composer with the suggestion he might provide a libretto for a planned opera, W.H. Auden, then old and ill, replied with a postcard that read simply, ""Dear Holloway: Too sad to sing. Yours, W.H. Auden."" The author also discusses postcards in general. Commenting on those depicting the British royal family, for example, Brecher notes that the Windsors ""always [tend] to look a bit overdressed."" And, when offered a postcard featuring Adolf Hitler, Brecher refused; even a confirmed collector has to draw the line somewhere. Delightfully written and illustrated, this is a work that rewards repeated dipping into. It should also prove a gold mine for the kind of literary/theatrical/historical anecdotes that keep conversations humming. A minor but irresistible treasure.

Pub Date: May 20th, 1988
Publisher: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich