Originally published in France in 1948, and here translated for the first time into English, this captivating journal records American culture as seen by the young, fiercely intelligent Beauvoir. Her observations rove in topic from “the dream of rootedness” to “the giddy exhilaration of the car and the wind,” and from the American obsession with material satisfaction to the nature of individual freedom. Beauvoir lands in New York in January of 1947, equipped with four flexible months, a promising letter of introduction from her companion, Jean-Paul Sartre, and The Second Sex not yet written. Though she’s a literary sensation, she’s anonymous on the street, which proves to be a huge advantage. Beauvoir travels from New York to Los Angeles and back by car, train, and Greyhound, relishing the “lavish monotony” of a landscape unlike Europe in its ’splendid stubbornness.” She’s enchanted by the optimism and affability she finds around her, by “the specific American poetry—of the drugstore. She wanders into Chicago’s bar-hopping morphine underworld with her lover Nelson Algren; she also mingles with the dreamy and disillusioned youth of America’s Ivy League. As the Red Scare accelerates, she grows preoccupied with the American fixation on liberty. She’s struck by our passion for solitude, coupled with our voyeuristic interest in the lives of the rich and famous. Sometimes she rants, clinging to her identity as a French intellectual while condemning the “ghastly opulence” of the US. Beauvoir remains both “dazzled” and “disappointed” by the extravagance of her subject, by “the battle it is waging with itself, in which the stakes are beyond measure.” Brainy and imaginative, critical and rhapsodic—and not to be missed.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-520-20979-6

Page Count: 355

Publisher: Univ. of California

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 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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Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)

Pub Date: May 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-19-508629-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1995

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