Another volume of Beauvoir’s correspondence to lay on the shelf beside Letters to Sartre (1991), this time featuring letters written to a most unlikely lover, the American novelist Nelson Algren. It would be hard to imagine two more discrepant writers (or temperaments) than Beauvoir and Algren, but when they met while she was touring the US in 1947, it was love at first sight. Neither knew much about the other when they were introduced in Algren’s beloved Chicago, but before she returned to Paris, they spent two frenzied weeks together in New York, connecting on an intensely visceral level. Beauvoir often referred to him as “my husband.” She wrote to him in English, sometimes berating him for his stubborn refusal to learn French. The letters in this volume offer a view of the existentialist and the French literary elite of the late ’40s and ’50s as Beauvoir gives Algren a Cook’s tour of her daily life. Readers glimpse the torrid political atmosphere in Paris during the Indochina conflict, with Sartre the recipient of death threats, and of the ruffian behavior of such literary lights as Arthur Koestler, depicted by de Beauvoir as belligerently anticommunist when drunk, apologetic but self-absorbed when sober. Felicities are many in this hefty compendium, ranging from Beauvoir’s encounter with “this ridiculous thing which is called Truman Capote” to an encomium on flying (“I think when you are at a high pitch of emotion, it is the only way of traveling which fits with your own heart”). Her occasionally fractured English is not without charm, but too much of the book consists of repetitively girlish affirmations of love that are odd coming from such a writer and thinker. Minimal notes and (apparently) almost no editorial intervention make this a hard slog for all but the most ardent Beauvoirians.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1998

ISBN: 1-56584-422-X

Page Count: 576

Publisher: The New Press

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1998

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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 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1996

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From the national correspondent for PBS's MacNeil-Lehrer Newshour: a moving memoir of her youth in the Deep South and her role in desegregating the Univ. of Georgia. The eldest daughter of an army chaplain, Hunter-Gault was born in what she calls the ``first of many places that I would call `my place' ''—the small village of Due West, tucked away in a remote little corner of South Carolina. While her father served in Korea, Hunter-Gault and her mother moved first to Covington, Georgia, and then to Atlanta. In ``L.A.'' (lovely Atlanta), surrounded by her loving family and a close-knit black community, the author enjoyed a happy childhood participating in activities at church and at school, where her intellectual and leadership abilities soon were noticed by both faculty and peers. In high school, Hunter-Gault found herself studying the ``comic-strip character Brenda Starr as I might have studied a journalism textbook, had there been one.'' Determined to be a journalist, she applied to several colleges—all outside of Georgia, for ``to discourage the possibility that a black student would even think of applying to one of those white schools, the state provided money for black students'' to study out of state. Accepted at Michigan's Wayne State, the author was encouraged by local civil-rights leaders to apply, along with another classmate, to the Univ. of Georgia as well. Her application became a test of changing racial attitudes, as well as of the growing strength of the civil-rights movement in the South, and Gault became a national figure as she braved an onslaught of hostilities and harassment to become the first black woman to attend the university. A remarkably generous, fair-minded account of overcoming some of the biggest, and most intractable, obstacles ever deployed by southern racists. (Photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-374-17563-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1992

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