Next book


POSTPUNK 1978-1984

A compelling read, swamped in the end by the new wave of ’80s rock.

The history of postpunk rock gets a microscopic examination by a keen-eyed English observer.

British critic Reynolds, who picked apart the development of house music, techno and the U.K. rave scene in Generation Ecstasy (1998), applies his methodology to the multitude of styles and sounds collectively known as “postpunk.” The rubric is somewhat misleading, since several of the significant bands Reynolds writes about—Pere Ubu, Devo, Talking Heads—either predated or worked concurrently with the punk explosion of the mid- and late-’70s. But Reynolds’s concern is not with chronology but with sensibility—the first half of his book addresses revolutionary bands whose art school–derived musical eclecticism ran contrary to the orthodoxy of conventional punk. He compellingly explores the breakaway sounds and styles of acts as diverse as Public Image Ltd. (the postpunk unit fronted by the Sex Pistols’ John Lydon), Gang of Four, Joy Division and the Pop Group. His smart, densely researched accounts of these bands and their scenes are sometimes marred by a weakness for artists whose intellectual rigor outweighed their musical worth. Sadly, this work is really two books in one, and Reynolds utterly loses his thread, and his head, when he abandons the more challenging postpunk sounds of the era to address the style-driven rise of new pop and synth-pop. Wearing his national chauvinism on his sleeve, he makes a slim connection between the pathfinding efforts of postpunk visionaries and the selling-out/buying-in ethos of such commercial acts as Gary Numan, the Human League and ABC, many of whom benefited from the early-’80s explosion of MTV. The latter half of Reynolds’s book suffers from a lack of focus, excessive Anglophilia and the strain of justifying the ascent of some decidedly lesser talents. Readers who savor the first 200 pages will likely continue patiently through its wearying finale.

A compelling read, swamped in the end by the new wave of ’80s rock.

Pub Date: March 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-14-303672-6

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Penguin

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

Next book


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

Next book



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

Close Quickview