Unique eyes look at familiar things and somehow make them seem both odder and more familiar.



A motley collection of pieces—often quite brief, many previously unpublished—on topics ranging from broken love to stretch marks to Tylenol.

Essayist Noble has a focused, tight style, often employing the technique of looking at somewhat discrete items (or memories) and seeking connections among them. Early in this debut volume, for example, is a series of snippets about the author’s experiences looking in mirrors, from childhood to the present—yes, Narcissus makes an appearance. Later, Noble examines a collection of rings that once belonged to her late grandmother, and she riffs on each one, giving us the histories of the various stones (“Pliny wrote that wearing a diamond wards off insanity”) and the memories she has of them. The author displays admirable candor in some reflections about her love affairs, chronicling not just how they began, but also how they cracked and crumbled, and she does not hesitate to recognize that she was sometimes the one to initiate the cracks. Noble also writes bluntly about her fears of childbirth. Another technique she uses is to compare her life with the lives of literary and historical figures. In a piece about one of her relationships, for instance, she cuts back and forth to and from the story of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn. Evident throughout is Noble’s fondness for reading and literature: Virginia Woolf drifts in and out of a number of essays, and she alludes to Wuthering Heights, Montaigne, Robinson Crusoe, Joan Didion, and Sherwin Nuland, among numerous others. Throughout the collection, Noble delivers many sharp-edged sentences. At the end of an essay about shotgun shells, Noble writes about a spent shell and her target: “I hold a shell in my hand and look at the cardboard box half-shredded on the ground. My thumb, the size of the shell; the hole, the size of your heart.”

Unique eyes look at familiar things and somehow make them seem both odder and more familiar.

Pub Date: March 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4962-0504-9

Page Count: 180

Publisher: Univ. of Nebraska

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 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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