Next book



Zacharias shows a keen eye for detail (she’s also a photographer), a strong sense of place, and an ambivalent, unsentimental...

A novelist and professor’s essay collection that almost coalesces into a memoir.

Zacharias (Creative Writing/Univ. of North Carolina, Greensboro; At Random, 2013, etc.) recounts how, after the publication of her first novel (Lessons, 1981), she spent 10 years writing her second, only to see it rejected, as was her third.  “You write well, but you won’t sell,” editors and agents told her. “Today’s reader wants a high concept plot and an upbeat message. Your work is literary. It’s dark, but not Oprah dark. There’s no market.” Though the author didn’t exactly buy the explanation, she does write well, and she has since found a home in literary journals. The chronological continuity here and the thematic interweaving of family, place, art and mortality give this collection a cohesiveness that makes some of the lesser pieces—e.g., “Geography for Writers,” which mainly catalogs the spaces where various writers have written—seem intrusive. Yet the format also undermines the strength of some of the strongest pieces, such as the collection-closing “Buzzards,” in which her memories of her father’s life and suicide would have more climactic power if she hadn’t already shared these with readers in earlier essays.  “A Grand Canyon” finds the writer working on many levels, as she fulfills her mother’s dream to travel there, a trip that reveals an emotional chasm between her teenage son and his grandmother and presages “the heartbreaking canyon that will open between us, because in that part of the story the generation gap isn’t between my mother and son but between my son and me. One day the love affair ends for the child, though it never does for the parent.” And then there’s the canyon itself, which the author illuminates as more than a metaphor.

Zacharias shows a keen eye for detail (she’s also a photographer), a strong sense of place, and an ambivalent, unsentimental examination of blood ties and family legacy.

Pub Date: May 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-938235-00-9

Page Count: 215

Publisher: Hub City Press

Review Posted Online: March 5, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2014

Next book


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

Next book



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