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Thirteen years of miscellaneous writing, some of it revelatory.

The film director and writer revisits his life and earlier work in this grab-bag essay collection.

In The Adderall Diaries (2009) and other writing, Rumpus founding editor Elliott has written of his troubled youth as a runaway from an abusive father and a homeless addict as well as the aftereffects that have lingered through his professional life. In one essay the author recalls his stint as a successful magazine writer. “I had quit taking speed for the most part, but only because it didn’t work anymore,” he writes. “I couldn’t focus and I was running out of money and I kept making plans and then giving up. I checked out war zones and interviewed celebrities and politicians, but none of it mattered.” Some of the best-written and fully realized pieces might be classified among the none that mattered, while Elliott seems more emotionally invested with the confessional essays: those about his masochistic fetishes and his cross-dressing, his desire for dominant women that is something other than sexual desire, his obsession with suicide (the “it” of the title, or at least of the essay “Sometimes I Think About Suicide”) and his frequent attempts, his ambivalence about his writing career and his lack of commercial success with it. “I try to write, but the work isn’t going well,” he writes. “I wonder if I am still a writer, and if I’m not a writer, what am I?” Other pieces reference his writing of the very essay the reader is reading. Elliott is unquestionably a talented writer—see his 2004 novel Happy Baby for ample evidence—but in this collection, that skill is most effectively applied to reporting, in which he is as heavily invested as he wants readers to become.

Thirteen years of miscellaneous writing, some of it revelatory.

Pub Date: Nov. 7, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-55597-775-7

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Graywolf

Review Posted Online: Aug. 19, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2017

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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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