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Dunn, a poet with eight published collections, turns to the essay with appealing diffidence but without anything especially startling or even lovely to say. The author sticks closely to a kind of folksy revelation (``The Truth: A Memoir'' consists of the personal stories he has embellished over the years, and this essay links up with ``Artifice and Sincerity,'' in which Dunn sets up the straw man of sincerity only to knock it down with the charger of imagination) or else to the memories of his childhood in Queens, lone gentile in a neighborhood of Jewish kids, making his way into individuality by means of basketball and then poetry. Dunn's about as pure a product of the American Workshop style as you can find—and his essays have a homogenized, can-you-believe-that? approach peculiar to the poetry of this style: language at simmer, colors as dull as the Gap's, homiletics dressing up as wisdom (``To know where you are requires imagination. To move well requires skill. Behind both, optimally, should be a sense of history''; ``Lovers are unreliable witnesses, which is why reliability is not always to be desired''). The essays—many first published in AWP, the academic poets' house-journal—are nearly impossible to imagine as having been written by anyone other than a tenured American creative-writing teacher circa 1980's.

Pub Date: May 10, 1993

ISBN: 0-393-03488-7

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 1993

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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 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1996

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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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