The title, of course, is a rip-off from the Dead Milkmen—but at least Kaufman recognizes their majesty. As for that Billy...

A genial foray into the meaning of rock ’n’ roll by humorist and music writer Kaufman (Nuns with Guns, 2016, etc.).

Does Rush suck? The answer is—well, the author answers, carefully, sort of, but by no means as much as Billy Joel does: “Here I am trying my damndest to rehabilitate Billy Joel, or at least give him his due, and try—TRY—to appreciate his songcraft,” he writes. “But it’s not possible. It’s not. Because the craft itself is so often flawed. His songs fall apart under minimal pressure.” On the other hand: The Canadian power trio gets points for being a power trio, and power is “about musical density.” Even if the band’s music is too busy, and bassist/vocalist Geddy Lee’s voice “might be appreciated in Middle Earth, but has no business being heard on the planet’s real continents,” at least they have some chops and authenticity. Kaufman takes some shooting-fish-in-a-barrel questions and mulls them over with due consideration, such as the timeworn matter of whether the Beatles or the Stones are the better band. For many, the question is “interpreted as a trick question, and the answer, of course, is Led Zeppelin.” Though Kaufman works in Plato here and Philip Roth (“a punk before punk”), the book tends to be—well, not quite thick as a brick, the Tull-ian version of which he hails as “a work of genius,” but without the intellectual heft of Greil Marcus or Peter Guralnick and without much of the snotty fire of Lester Bangs, whom Kaufman exalts. Still, it’s entertaining enough to thumb through the author’s record collection with him and hear his asides and grumbles—e.g., the Mekons rule, and though Ann Coulter may have loved the Grateful Dead, “when the funkiest song you have in your bag is ‘Shakedown Street,’ you’ve got some problems.”

The title, of course, is a rip-off from the Dead Milkmen—but at least Kaufman recognizes their majesty. As for that Billy Joel fellow….

Pub Date: Jan. 29, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-68219-167-5

Page Count: 196

Publisher: OR Books

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2018



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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