THE ONLY THING THAT COUNTS

THE ERNEST HEMINGWAY-MAXWELL PERKINS CORRESPONDENCE, 1925-1947

Underneath the usual authorial complaints about royalties and editorial requests for finished manuscripts, Hemingway's dedication to his craft, and Perkins's to Hemingway, come through in this carefully abridged selection. Elsewhere Hemingway wrote, ``Plenty of times people who write the best write the worst letters.'' But he only occasionally exemplifies this rule himself. His correspondence with august editor Maxwell Perkins, spanning the businesslike and the personal, has the benefit of focusing on Hemingway's literary career, which sprawled through the Selected Letters (1981). Here we get to look over their shoulders during Hemingway's early time with Scribner's, in which he often has to defend (and sometimes amend) his use of strong language, starting with The Sun Also Rises, and to battle against cuts in magazine serializations (``Half the writing I do is elimination''). In this rich, sometimes swamping flow of letters, we see Hemingway's guard going gradually, but never totally, down and Perkins moving from literary associate to confidant (thanks to a fishing trip to Key West). Amid the quotidian debates about advertising and royalty advances, Perkins also has to insert himself into the Fitzgerald-Hemingway rivalry (Hemingway's side is candid but brutal) and diplomatically participate in literary feuds with Gertrude Stein and others, and critical skirmishes, notably involving Max Eastman, whom Hemingway wrestled to the floor in Perkins's office. Given Hemingway's fundamental unreliability about himself, Fitzgerald maven Bruccoli (Some Sort of Epic Grandeur: The Life of F. Scott Fitzgerald, 1981, etc.) has something less than a biographic account, even after judicious assembly, sundry cuts, and helpful footnotes and chronologies. Still, these letters deliver the documentary evidence, sometimes unflatteringly, but always for Hemingway's serious craftsmanship and Perkins's subtle caretaking. Although the volume represents only a fractional side of Hemingway's life, it carries his last word on Perkins: ``You are my most trusted friend as well as my God damned publisher.'' (illustrations, not seen)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 1996

ISBN: 0-684-81562-1

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 1996

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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A wonderful page-turner written with humility, immediacy, and great style. Nothing came cheap and easy to McCandless, nor...

INTO THE WILD

The excruciating story of a young man on a quest for knowledge and experience, a search that eventually cooked his goose, told with the flair of a seasoned investigative reporter by Outside magazine contributing editor Krakauer (Eiger Dreams, 1990). 

Chris McCandless loved the road, the unadorned life, the Tolstoyan call to asceticism. After graduating college, he took off on another of his long destinationless journeys, this time cutting all contact with his family and changing his name to Alex Supertramp. He was a gent of strong opinions, and he shared them with those he met: "You must lose your inclination for monotonous security and adopt a helter-skelter style of life''; "be nomadic.'' Ultimately, in 1992, his terms got him into mortal trouble when he ran up against something—the Alaskan wild—that didn't give a hoot about Supertramp's worldview; his decomposed corpse was found 16 weeks after he entered the bush. Many people felt McCandless was just a hubris-laden jerk with a death wish (he had discarded his map before going into the wild and brought no food but a bag of rice). Krakauer thought not. Admitting an interest that bordered on obsession, he dug deep into McCandless's life. He found a willful, reckless, moody boyhood; an ugly little secret that sundered the relationship between father and son; a moral absolutism that agitated the young man's soul and drove him to extremes; but he was no more a nutcase than other pilgrims. Writing in supple, electric prose, Krakauer tries to make sense of McCandless (while scrupulously avoiding off-the-rack psychoanalysis): his risky behavior and the rites associated with it, his asceticism, his love of wide open spaces, the flights of his soul.

A wonderful page-turner written with humility, immediacy, and great style. Nothing came cheap and easy to McCandless, nor will it to readers of Krakauer's narrative. (4 maps) (First printing of 35,000; author tour)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-679-42850-X

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Villard

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 1995

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