IN A NARROW GRAVE

ESSAYS ON TEXAS

The energy of youth and intelligence and possibility thrum through these pages.

A reissue of the 1968 volume of gently connected essays by the author of The Last Picture Show (1966) and myriad other notable works about the Southwest.

Surprisingly, McMurtry’s essays from a half-century ago possess enduring relevance. One of his themes is the end of the cowboy era and the exodus from the ranch to the city and suburbs. He writes at the outset that he wanted an elegiac tone, and he achieved it—witness his final clause in the book: “it can never be again.” Throughout, the author writes about the passing of the old ways: from the deaths of beloved older relatives (Texas was aswarm with McMurtrys) to the evanescence of the small towns to some of the depressing features he observes in Texas cities. San Antonio, he writes, is “the one truly lovely city in the state.” Younger readers may need to consult Google for some of the McMurtry’s references. An early essay, for example, deals with the filming of Hud (1963), based on his 1961 novel, Horseman, Pass By, and even the stars’ names, once iconic, have faded into history’s fog (except Paul Newman): Melvyn Douglas, Patricia Neal et al. It’s sometimes startling in these pages to read about the “new” presidency of Lyndon Johnson, the opening of the Astrodome, and other long-ago events. Occasionally, the 1968 McMurtry could be a little insensitive about how his words might sound 50 years later, as when, attending a fiddle event, he comments about how he saw no pretty women there—and he looked all day. These reservations aside, it is exciting to return to these essays and to hear McMurtry’s young, vibrant voice echoing throughout. One especially memorable essay records a drive he took around the entire state; through his eyes, we see the reality of his themes.

The energy of youth and intelligence and possibility thrum through these pages.

Pub Date: May 29, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-63149-353-9

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Liveright/Norton

Review Posted Online: March 18, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2018

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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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