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Asking, ``What does a writer do, when the world collapses, but write?,'' Doty, whose world collapsed when his lover died, gives an answer that's both generous and indulgent. In a look back at the period before, during, and after Wally Roberts succumbed to complications of AIDS, the author (a winner of the National Book Critics Circle award for poetry) walks a path between the practical and the poetic, the enraged and the calm. On one hand, he's got helpful observations for support partners—``The lower one goes in the medical system, it seems, the more humanity, the more hands-on help, the more genuine care.'' On the other, he's ready to turn profound on death's many approaching moments, especially its final one—``. . . he is most himself, even if that self empties out into no one, swift river hurrying into the tumble of rivers, out of individuality, into the great rushing whirlwind of currents.'' Putting the puzzle of his life back together after Roberts's demise upset it, Doty returns to the Boston house where the proud and very out pair first lived together (but in separate apartments); recalls the Vermont homes they shared; and fills in the final Provincetown years. He visits landscapes here and abroad, finding reminders—and metaphors and avatars—of their relationship wherever he looks. He also writes with love about the friends who filled the couple's days with joy and anxiety (a self-destructive poet identified only as Lynda particularly delights and infuriates Doty). He commemorates Arden and Beau, two rollicking dogs who kept things much happier than they might otherwise have been. A poet with a quick memory for poems he didn't write, Doty is angry at the realities of the world when it unleashes physical and moral diseases, and grateful when it shows a kinder face. A book very much like grief itself in that it's sometimes awkward, often uncontrolled, and always deeply felt.

Pub Date: March 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-06-017210-X

Page Count: 320

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1996

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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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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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