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A humorous, thoughtful account with many memorable vignettes, though not every chapter hits home.

In this humorous debut memoir, the author looks back at her life, including stints as a rodeo rider, a photographer, Hollywood actor and more.

In her author’s note, Stobie explains that “many of these essays appeared originally as newspaper columns, and others I wrote recently about my early life”; she calls the book her “patchwork memoir.” Divided into six sections, the book follows Stobie’s life from her first riding lesson at age 3 to the present day. In between, she participated in junior rodeos, worked as a professional photographer and actor (she met Warren Beatty at the height of his Shampoo fame), married and had children. In tone, Stobie’s down-to-earth humor is something like a cross between Will Rogers and Lenore Skenazy, and her love of risk-taking makes for some great scenes. When just a teenage novice riding a bucking steer, “a huge Scottish Highlander with a shaggy red coat,” she said to the beast, “Hootman, you think you can make light work of this rookie. But I’m Scottish, too, so this ride will be one Scot on top of another.” (She earned a second-place buckle.) Her writing is thoughtful as well, with some nicely observed moments: As she begins a hike, “the sky is empty of clouds and quiet as a coiled snake.” The early sections discussing Stobie’s riding days and her brushes with Hollywood fame make for especially fun reading. Less so are the essays exploring such commonplaces as the tedium of science fairs and soccer practice or how men and women see things differently. The chapters on aging, second marriages and clearing out a parent’s home offer fresher insights. Looking back at her daredevil past, Stobie wonders “[i]f aging changes our judgment, as I think it may be doing with mine, how do I gauge what is safe to do? If I don’t risk at all, my world will shut down.” She doesn’t seem in much danger of that any time soon.

A humorous, thoughtful account with many memorable vignettes, though not every chapter hits home.

Pub Date: Oct. 11, 2014

ISBN: 978-0692301135

Page Count: 204

Publisher: Liberator Press

Review Posted Online: Nov. 13, 2014

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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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