Of two biographies of Henry Miller to be published in the same month (see Robert Ferguson's Henry Miller, below), this is the easier, more flowing read, though not necessarily the better book. Both Dearborn and Ferguson will the same story from the same sympathetic viewpoint, with Ferguson giving greater detail, a denser page, and more cultural scene-setting. One might fear that Dearborn (Love in the Promised Land, 1988; Pocahontas's Daughters, 1985) will do a feminist hatchet job on the freewheeling satyr whose novels shooed in the sexual revolution (at least in print), but she remains open-spirited about Miller's seeing women in his novels—aside from his second wife, June—as so many vaginas. Dearborn indeed makes clear that Miller suffered heavily from a domineering Nordic mother and wives who victimized him, so much so that he barely knew a woman who wasn't a towering sneak or double-dealer. We follow him through his Brooklyn childhood and early failures as an unpublished novelist; his famed five years as a hiring-and-firing manager for Western Union; the explosively bloody crucifixion of his marriage to June ``Smith'' (born Juliet Edith Smerth); his bottom-dog decade of poverty in Paris that produced his greatest works (aside from Plexus), the shift of real-life, sex-hungry Henry Miller into his novels' fantasy hero, the endlessly priapic ``Henry Miller''; his years of begging in the wilderness of California's Big Sur country; the belated publication of his Tropic novels, banned in the States for 25 years after their first printings in Paris; his fight against being known as the ``King of Smut''—and his hopeless ties with later wives and man-eaters. Dearborn aptly compares Miller's literary life to Walt Whitman's, thinks that sex was an element in his writing that was ``a red herring that misled his readers for years. The theme of his greatest books is survival.'' Smooth, warm, and commendable.

Pub Date: May 8, 1991

ISBN: 0-671-67704-7

Page Count: -

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 1991

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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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