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Second life of Henry Miller reviewed this issue (see Mary V. Dearborn's ``The Happiest Man Alive'', above), this one longer, more richly detailed, with bigger critiques of Miller's works. As portrayed by Ferguson (Enigma: The Life of Knut Hamsun, 1987), Miller turns out to be a two-sided writer, showing himself in his autobiographical fiction to be ``the happiest man alive'' despite the depths of his lifelong suffering. A charismatic of superhuman generosity, with a great gathering of ``friends.'' Miller nonetheless drew these friends harshly in his novels, so much so that one old school friend from Brooklyn wrote his own ``honest and warm'' memoir of Miller and called him hard, unfeeling, vicious, and monstrously cruel. Dearborn and Ferguson split on whether or not Miller fathered Anais Nin's stillborn daughter (Dearborn says you can't tell, but Ferguson makes very dark assumptions). Once Tropic of Cancer was published (1934) and Miller as 45 began to become ``Henry Miller,'' he also drank more, became boisterous and boorish in mixed company in order to live up to his satyr image, and enjoyed ragging friends and stealing from them. This image also fostered his famous begging letters; he saw himself as a beggar 25 years later even after the riches flowed in f rom the Grove Press editions of his banned novels: begging showed who his friends were. Once Miller became ``Henry Miller,'' Ferguson says, ``the ability or the desire to ridicule his own pretensions was largely gone,'' and he became a guru to the Beats with a foggy grasp of cosmology and philosophy. His ``autobiographical not profit from repeated reading. They are not like symphonies or great novels that offer more with each successive experience of them. Rather they offer less...'' Ferguson shows Miller full-tilt in violent rebellion against the puritanism and materialism of his era, deep in suffering one moment, a great prancing goat the next. The last years are quite sad.

Pub Date: May 27, 1991

ISBN: 0-393-02978-6

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 1991

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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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