The irrepressible Bloch (Psycho, and gobbets of brethren) kicks off his bouncy autobiography by calling it ``unauthorized,'' as if it appeared from apparitional fingers without his permission. Don't believe it: This is pure Bloch—and much better than his recent excelsior-packed novel, Psycho House (1990). Bloch sets out with gusto and never falls into doldrums, which suggests that even at age 77, if given a strong subject, he can summon the same youthful zest that flowed in Weird Stories and Amazing Stories back in the mid-30's, when he first published at age 18. Phony footnotes abound, including: ``This is not a footnote'' and ``Why anyone would want to be known as the author of Psycho is beyond me. For some time I've attempted to persuade the editors of Who's Who to amend my listing as follows: `Robert Bloch is the author of The Iliad, The Odyssey, Romeo and Juliet, and The Complete Works of Isaac Asimov.' '' Bloch, we learn, is a midwesterner of German Jewish parentage who first worked as a pulp writer (his mock-Runyonesque character Lefty Feep, he intimates, introduced a slangy new daffiness to sf and fantasy), then as a greatly admired pulp writer with a fan club, then as an aspiring hack for Milwaukee politicians (he actually got a mayor elected), then as a radio-drama writer. His winning a Hugo for his story ``That Hellbound Train'' and the filming, in midlife, of Psycho boosted his career ever upward. Throughout the memoir, anecdotes abound concerning great writing friends (Arthur C. Clarke; August Derleth; H.P. Lovecraft, whose correspondence with the youthful Bloch set Bloch on his writing career) and actor folk (from Karloff to Joan Crawford): Alfred Hitchcock, Bloch tells us, forever said that Bloch was responsible for everything in the film version of Psycho, including the last famous line, ``I wouldn't hurt a fly.'' Brilliant, loopy, Blochian, and a towering example of modest self-deprecation and lampoonery on a Lilliputian scale. Seriously.

Pub Date: July 1, 1993

ISBN: 0-312-85373-4

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Tor

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 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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