Fails to register on the scale of substance.



Feathery observations on The End of It All.

Veteran culture warhorse/novelist/rock critic/essayist/poet Meltzer (The Night [Alone], 1995, etc.) is playful with the language (you must give him that), and he can make you laugh (ditto). Meltzer clearly has much fun swinging wildly with his rhetorical bludgeon, breaking cultural taboos like so many piñatas. But, ultimately, what can you say about a poet who composes verse about his penis or pens such lines as “His life was like a fart”? What can you say about an essayist who sprinkles his text with neologisms (and no-logisms) like “fuckadoodle,” “doodooheads,” and “bearzy-wearzy”? Who claims that jazz saxophonist Charlie Parker was the greatest musician ever to record a note? What can you say about a son who writes, “My father was almost dust before he stopped being a world-class asshole”? Who records in grim detail an explicit dream he had about having sex with his mother and reproduces lengthy transcripts of conversations with her in her dotage? Who congratulates himself on having “slipped the sausage to Helen Wheels”? Who writes about a box containing the shit of God? Who seems determined to offend as many people as he possibly can, especially those who think seriously about everything he takes lightly? Oh, sure, Meltzer lands a few punches, zapping conspiracy theorists and parents who pound into their little children the bleak notions of hell and damnation. Even wild swingers occasionally connect. But just when you think the author has found his rhythm, just when you begin to consider taking him seriously, he offers up some half-baked, repellent, reeking concoction and invites you to eat it blindfolded. Finally, there isn’t much to say about a writer who invites his readers to take some of his ashes (post-mortem, we presume) and rub them in our “filthy fat butt.”

Fails to register on the scale of substance.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2003

ISBN: 0-306-81228-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Da Capo

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2003

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet


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

Did you like this book?



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

Did you like this book?