THE PERFECT VEHICLE

WHAT IT IS ABOUT MOTORCYCLES

An entertaining vade mecum for the aspiring Dennis Hopper, Evel Knievel, or Malcolm Forbes of the family. Magazine journalist Pierson sets out to explore the motorcycle mystique, her account ranging from peeks at by now tired icons like the Marlon Brando of The Wild Ones to fresher elements like the nascent French biker culture. (The French, of course, have an elaborate classification system to distinguish true bikers from les sportifs, the sham articles.) She calls the fixation with bikes ``motolust,'' and she admits to being a victim herself, one of the growing number of women who reject the phallic-substitute imagery long associated with ``chicks on bikes'' for what is, all in all, a fun ride in the open air. Pierson takes the reader on wild spins, hitting cross-country races and motocross tournaments up and down the East coast, cataloging the thrills and, especially, the manifold dangers that await, all the little things that can quickly send a biker to the grave: ``wet leaves, gravel, sand, decreasing-radius turns, painted lines, tar patches liquefying in the sun, antifreeze, oil deposits at gas stations or toll booths, metal plates and manhole covers made deadly by rain . . .'' Pierson is often funny, frequently deep, occasionally sharp-edged, and almost always right on the money. She is also fully aware of her minority status within a minority culture—as she notes, only 7 million Americans ride motorcycles, as against 20 million who call themselves bird-watchers—and she does her best to convey the spirit of motorcycling to the countless uninitiated. You don't have to be a two-wheel devotee to appreciate Pierson's work, but it probably helps. Still, even if you don't much care for motorcycles—or your mother wouldn't let you ride one—this engaging treatise (part of which appeared in Harper's) is worth a look. (photos, not seen)

Pub Date: April 1, 1997

ISBN: 0-393-04064-X

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 1997

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NUTCRACKER

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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TO THE ONE I LOVE THE BEST

EPISODES FROM THE LIFE OF LADY MENDL (ELSIE DE WOLFE)

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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