Awards & Accolades

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

How Did That Old Fart Get into My Mirror?

MRS. KORSAKOV, CAN RIMSKY COME OUT AND PLAY?

A colorful, bittersweet romp through Old Fartdom.

Awards & Accolades

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

A retired director for The Ed Sullivan Show takes readers on a roller-coaster ride through the joys and perils of aging.

Part memoir, part smorgasbord of fun (but maybe not always accurate) facts, Schwarz’s quirky but sweet debut brims with fast-paced anecdotes about his life amid Wikipedia-type information—the causes of cataracts, the functions of the human heart, and the history of pants. Schwarz, 84, also paints vivid pictures of his childhood and his long-term career in television. The heartbeat of Schwarz’s memoir, however, is his 56-year marriage to his wife, Mimi. Schwarz favors age-related yuks, but the discussion usually spins off into various topics. For example, a story about his “Old Fart” blood pressure also includes mention of the sphygmomanometer and its origin. That tidbit turns into an analysis of how blood pressure works. He adds striking and often poignant life memories to the mix, such as the time when, during a romantic vacation in Venice, Mimi saw trash in the water and exclaimed, “In my memory it will be perfectly blue and crystal clear.”  At his best, Schwarz’s voice is reminiscent of Groucho Marx. Take, for instance, his description of the Japanese paperless toilet: “It washes, rinses, blow dries and even has a heating element for those shivery cold days; just be thankful it doesn’t iron out the wrinkles.” Other times, he sounds like a relentlessly chatty guy at a cocktail party who corners his victims with a dizzying array of trivia—from horses and Scythians to codpieces and corsets. Nevertheless, Schwarz’s friendly, cogent prose creates a buoyant page-turner. His homespun humor is affecting and may resonate with readers who don’t mind laughing at their own gray hair or leaky body parts (“It All Depends on Depends”). Some may wish he had spent a little less time on the parts of the eyeball and a little more time writing about his fascinating television career—he once worked with Janis Joplin. A shift in tone occurs abruptly at the book’s conclusion when Mimi becomes seriously ill. Here, Schwarz’s knee-slapping humor quickly melts into memorable sadness and reflection.

A colorful, bittersweet romp through Old Fartdom.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: 978-1-5330-1890-8

Page Count: -

Publisher: Dog Ear Publisher

Review Posted Online: June 15, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2016

Categories:

NUTCRACKER

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

Categories:

TO THE ONE I LOVE THE BEST

EPISODES FROM THE LIFE OF LADY MENDL (ELSIE DE WOLFE)

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

Categories:
Close Quickview