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it haunting.

An ingenious, outsize myth-meets-facts "life and works" of the charismatic global citizen and compulsive tale-teller.

Prizewinning political novelist Shakespeare (The Dancer Upstairs, 1997, etc.) carefully situates Chatwin (1940–88) in each milieu where he sought, then outgrew, mentors: boarding school, Sotheby's, archaeological digs, the London Sunday Times, world capitals' gay subworlds. An active if conflicted bisexual, he mesmerized relatives, friends, colleagues, lovers, and critics, who turn up here to voice every shade of judgment concerning his marathon monologues ("Bruce on form could be the song the sirens sang"—unless "he murdered people with talk"), his "ascetic de luxe" style of writing and living, his overdrive curiosity. (He could have claimed as his credo "I need desperately to know certain things.") The incremental portrait of Elizabeth Chanler proves that finding this resilient, independent, dedicated American was Chatwin's "greatest luck": Whatever his wildest forays, their 23-year marriage remained his ultimate refuge. Shakespeare tracks the restless wanderer as he scavenges the world for experience he encapsulated in dazzling verbal edifices that defy classification. In Patagonia (1978), the most legendary travel book of its time, revived that region of Argentina; The Songlines (1987) appropriated and enlarged upon aboriginal cosmology. A thirst for the marvelous pursued Chatwin to the last. Records confirm he died riddled by a rare South Asian fungus fostered by the AIDS he never admitted to, which elevated him to baroque hallucinations and hypomania before his death at 48. Though impressed by the man's unfettered brilliance, Shakespeare evenhandedly displays every persona constituting "The Chatwin Effect," from solipsistic na‹f to literary wonder-worker, mountebank sponger to golden-haired Prometheus. This spirited tell-all will make newcomers yearn to try his books. An unflinching reconstruction of a singular writer's scorching trajectory through life: Speed makes it concise; fate makes

it haunting. (Family tree, photos, not seen) (Author tour)

Pub Date: Feb. 15, 2000

ISBN: 0-385-49829-2

Page Count: 704

Publisher: Nan A. Talese

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2000

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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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