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This isn’t essential Auster, but fans and scholars of his work will undoubtedly be charmed and intrigued by his evolving...

An eclectic collection of essays from the 50-year career of a beloved novelist and thinker.

In the first piece, Auster (4 3 2 1, 2017, etc.) muses that “to feel estranged from language is to lose your own body. When words fail you, you dissolve into an image of nothingness. You disappear.” One can forgive him for a bit of youthful melodrama, as the essay was written in 1967, when the author was only 20 years old and his illustrious literary career still years away. Still, it’s a start to the collection, which skips through that career at a chipper pace, highlighting some of his famous essays and criticism along with several pieces that have never been published. Selections from the 1970s are particularly erudite; Auster was then a young poet and little-known novelist, but he made a name for himself contributing pieces of literary criticism to the New York Review of Books. Beckett and Kafka—two writers with undeniable influences on Auster’s own fiction—appear for the first time there and then several more times throughout the book. One of the most engaging essays is also one that another writer or editor might have shoved, forgotten, in a drawer: a lecture from 1982 at Seton Hall that becomes a fascinating exploration of the influence of European readership on Edgar Allan Poe, which is particularly interesting considering how popular Auster would become in Europe. Later in the collection, the essays branch out from literature to other art forms, as Auster writes about filmmaker Jim Jarmusch, illustrator Joe Brainard, and even New York Mets pitcher Terry Leach. They also turn more personal, with the author examining everything from an ode to his beloved typewriter (which Auster traveled with for decades even as the world turned to computers and word processing) to a somber remembrance of his family’s experiences during 9/11.

This isn’t essential Auster, but fans and scholars of his work will undoubtedly be charmed and intrigued by his evolving thoughts on art, language, and other assorted topics.

Pub Date: May 21, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-20629-9

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Picador

Review Posted Online: March 16, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2019

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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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