FEBRUARY HOUSE

A brief, madcap moment in literary chronicles: the house was torn down for the Brooklyn Queens Expressway in 1945.

Long-time Brooklyn resident Tippins (coauthor, The Irreverent Guide to New York) shapes a lively literary history with some surprising depth around the bawdy house of writers at 7 Middagh Avenue in Brooklyn Heights at the outbreak of WWII.

In October 1940, George Davis, newly fired fiction editor of Harper’s Bazaar, was the impresario behind the renting of the ramshackle house close to the waterfront, where he dreamed of luring the literary lights of the day. Captivating storyteller Davis, having gleaned his literary education in Paris, strong-armed some of the most interesting writers of the time into his orbit, among them W.H. Auden, Christopher Isherwood and the very young southern novelist Carson McCullers, all of whose work he helped publish. On evidence of a dream he had, he convinced McCullers to co-rent the house on Middagh Street, overlooking the Fulton Ferry, and bring in other new friends as tenants, such as the British composer Benjamin Britten; the various politically active children of German novelist Thomas Mann (Klaus, Erika, Golo); and Paul and Jane Bowles, who were allowed to stay only briefly before their Francophilia irritated the Brits. Ailing alcoholic McCullers would shape her extraordinary Ballad of the Sad Café in this house; Auden would meet here his long-time lover of grief, Chester Kallman, and wrestle with important questions concerning the function of the writer during political crisis; and Britten would move from the sophomoric Paul Bunyan to the momentous Peter Grimes. The strangest and most interesting tenant of all was surely stripper-cum-writer Gypsy Rose Lee, whom Davis had known back in his Detroit hometown and whose first successful literary enterprise, The G-String Murders, he helped midwife. Tippins demonstrates some fine research on Auden’s life—and on the first tremulous days of fear and dread as America faced another European war.

A brief, madcap moment in literary chronicles: the house was torn down for the Brooklyn Queens Expressway in 1945.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2005

ISBN: 0-618-41911-X

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2004

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KILLERS OF THE FLOWER MOON

THE OSAGE MURDERS AND THE BIRTH OF THE FBI

Dogged original research and superb narrative skills come together in this gripping account of pitiless evil.

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Greed, depravity, and serial murder in 1920s Oklahoma.

During that time, enrolled members of the Osage Indian nation were among the wealthiest people per capita in the world. The rich oil fields beneath their reservation brought millions of dollars into the tribe annually, distributed to tribal members holding "headrights" that could not be bought or sold but only inherited. This vast wealth attracted the attention of unscrupulous whites who found ways to divert it to themselves by marrying Osage women or by having Osage declared legally incompetent so the whites could fleece them through the administration of their estates. For some, however, these deceptive tactics were not enough, and a plague of violent death—by shooting, poison, orchestrated automobile accident, and bombing—began to decimate the Osage in what they came to call the "Reign of Terror." Corrupt and incompetent law enforcement and judicial systems ensured that the perpetrators were never found or punished until the young J. Edgar Hoover saw cracking these cases as a means of burnishing the reputation of the newly professionalized FBI. Bestselling New Yorker staff writer Grann (The Devil and Sherlock Holmes: Tales of Murder, Madness, and Obsession, 2010, etc.) follows Special Agent Tom White and his assistants as they track the killers of one extended Osage family through a closed local culture of greed, bigotry, and lies in pursuit of protection for the survivors and justice for the dead. But he doesn't stop there; relying almost entirely on primary and unpublished sources, the author goes on to expose a web of conspiracy and corruption that extended far wider than even the FBI ever suspected. This page-turner surges forward with the pacing of a true-crime thriller, elevated by Grann's crisp and evocative prose and enhanced by dozens of period photographs.

Dogged original research and superb narrative skills come together in this gripping account of pitiless evil.

Pub Date: April 18, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-385-53424-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Feb. 1, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2017

NIGHT

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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