THE MEADOWLANDS

WILDERNESS ADVENTURES AT THE EDGE OF A CITY

Outlandish, implausibly captivating explorations of New Jersey's untamed and godawful Meadowlands from freelance journalist Sullivan. If there's an environmental equivalent of the Inferno's sub-basement, it is the Meadowlands, the skanky place with the pretty name. Pestilence, poison, murder, mayhem—the Meadowlands are home to them all, in abundance. Come a free day, Sullivan enjoys nosing about, ``like a bad habit,'' in the toxic farrago of swamp, bog, and saltwater marsh, encountering things you would rather not know about. Bring on the Superfund cleanup sites and state remediation areas; the smoldering hills of garbage, laced with mercury and chromium, leaching their brown juices into the waterways; the obscene swarms of mosquitoes hatching in water the color of antifreeze; serve them forth, Sullivan wants a look-see. But the story isn't all vile, for there is a history here to consider, of real meadows that once supported arum and saxiflage and cedar forests, native populations and European settlers who didn't rape the terrain, and there is the host of characters smitten by the Meadowlands, with strange and curious things to tell. And Sullivan has an appealing taste for the absurd and ridiculous, the kind of material that gives places warp and weft: He floats his canoe over the submerged remains of a radio station ``thought to be the first to ever broadcast the voice of Frank Sinatra,'' finds the world's largest collection of foreign translations of Gone with the Wind at the Kearny Public Library, and casually observes ``the morning that Dave and I set out to dig for Jimmy Hoffa was beautiful and sunny.'' The 20th century has done its worst by the Meadowlands, but as Sullivan superbly demonstrates, there is life in the old landscape yet, a friskiness that shakes off into the clayey muck the hellspawn of progress.

Pub Date: April 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-684-83285-2

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 1998

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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

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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

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