Lyrical reminiscences of a footloose journey from Yugoslavia to India, undertaken 40 years ago by the then-25-year-old author of the enchanting The Japanese Chronicles (1992) and an equally young companion. Traveling in a distinctly fractious Fiat, the two friends, appealingly optimistic and resourceful, make their way ``on the cheap,'' settling in at peasant inns, earning their expenses by writing articles, delivering lectures, and organizing exhibitions. Perhaps because of their winning ways, they attract a colorful band of cohorts as they wend their way eastward—beggars and brigands, muezzins and Marxists. In recounting his adventures, Bouvier frequently provides thought-provoking insights: At one point, discussing the shortcomings of US humanitarian aid programs, he observes that ``practicing charity demands endless tact and humility''—qualities he finds lacking even in well-intentioned Americans; later, he points out that, ``like a mirror, an intelligent face is the same age as what it reflects.'' Wherever he travels, Bouvier displays an artist's eye for the image-conjuring detail: a moustache ``like a furled umbrella''; a Tabriz cinema in which the projectionist, eager to get home, speeds up his machine until ``the story would take on a disturbing pace: caresses looked like slaps, ermine-clad empresses hurtled downstairs.'' Throughout, Robyn Marsack's translation from the French is a model of lucidity and smoothness, capturing the author's unique blend of humanity and humor, and, as a bonus, there's a gracefully appreciative introduction by travel-writer Patrick Leigh Fermor. Travel writing to be cherished and reread.

Pub Date: April 10, 1993

ISBN: 0-910395-86-1

Page Count: 309

Publisher: Northwestern Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 1993



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




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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