MARIA TALLCHIEF

AMERICA'S PRIMA BALLERINA

The tastefully yet candidly told life story of one of America's most gifted dancers, a former wife of George Balanchine. Tallchief was born Elizabeth Marie Tall Chief in 1925, to an alcoholic but loving Osage Indian father and a white mother in small-town Oklahoma. When the family moved to Los Angeles, she began studying ballet with Bronislava Nijinska (``It was from Madame Nijinska that I first understood that the dancer's soul is in the middle of the body''). Tallchief joined the Ballet Russe while still a teenager and changed her name to Maria at the suggestion of Agnes de Mille. She first worked with Balanchine in 1944, when he was hired as a choreographer by the Ballet Russe. A year later, the much older man of few words shocked her by saying casually that ``I would like you to become my wife.'' Although this collaboration between Tallchief and ghostwriter Kaplan (Prodigal Son, 1992) does not include much about Tallchief's firsthand view of Balanchine's revisionary classical technique, the book abounds with droll tales and with detailed descriptions of her roles in Balanchine's The Firebird, The Nutcracker, Orpheus, and Sylvia, among others. She chronicles, too sketchily, doings among her famous fellow dancers at the New York City Ballet. Her marriage to Balanchine ended in an annulment. Tallchief is equally frank and lively in describing her career after Balanchines, including an affair with the nubile Rudolf Nureyev. (``I taught him the twist . . . he picked it up right away.'') She also offers penetrating, if tactful, criticism of NYCB's post-Balanchine regime: ``The irony of George's remark that `ballet is woman' is that today most of the companies in the world are being run by men . . . the contribution former Balanchine ballerinas can make, ballerinas who worked directly with George and who created their roles, isn't being valued, not even in George's own company.'' What would happen, one wonders, if this remarkable woman were running things? (32 pages photos, not seen)

Pub Date: April 1, 1997

ISBN: 0-8050-3302-5

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1997

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

THE 48 LAWS OF POWER

The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

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UNTAMED

More life reflections from the bestselling author on themes of societal captivity and the catharsis of personal freedom.

In her third book, Doyle (Love Warrior, 2016, etc.) begins with a life-changing event. “Four years ago,” she writes, “married to the father of my three children, I fell in love with a woman.” That woman, Abby Wambach, would become her wife. Emblematically arranged into three sections—“Caged,” “Keys,” “Freedom”—the narrative offers, among other elements, vignettes about the soulful author’s girlhood, when she was bulimic and felt like a zoo animal, a “caged girl made for wide-open skies.” She followed the path that seemed right and appropriate based on her Catholic upbringing and adolescent conditioning. After a downward spiral into “drinking, drugging, and purging,” Doyle found sobriety and the authentic self she’d been suppressing. Still, there was trouble: Straining an already troubled marriage was her husband’s infidelity, which eventually led to life-altering choices and the discovery of a love she’d never experienced before. Throughout the book, Doyle remains open and candid, whether she’s admitting to rigging a high school homecoming court election or denouncing the doting perfectionism of “cream cheese parenting,” which is about “giving your children the best of everything.” The author’s fears and concerns are often mirrored by real-world issues: gender roles and bias, white privilege, racism, and religion-fueled homophobia and hypocrisy. Some stories merely skim the surface of larger issues, but Doyle revisits them in later sections and digs deeper, using friends and familial references to personify their impact on her life, both past and present. Shorter pieces, some only a page in length, manage to effectively translate an emotional gut punch, as when Doyle’s therapist called her blooming extramarital lesbian love a “dangerous distraction.” Ultimately, the narrative is an in-depth look at a courageous woman eager to share the wealth of her experiences by embracing vulnerability and reclaiming her inner strength and resiliency.

Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-0125-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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