An intimate, luminous portrait of a friendship.

Tender letters reveal interwoven literary lives.

Mystery writer Ross MacDonald, the pen name of Kenneth Millar (1915-1983), first wrote to Eudora Welty (1909-2001) in 1970 about her novel Losing Battles; it was a “fan letter” thanking her both for that book and her mention of his work to a New York Times reviewer. That letter began a 13-year correspondence that lasted until Millar’s death from Alzheimer’s disease. Edited, helpfully annotated, and sensitively introduced by Welty’s biographer Marrs (English/Millsaps Coll.; What There Is to Say We Have Said: The Correspondence of Eudora Welty and William Maxwell, 2011, etc.) and MacDonald’s biographer, Nolan (Artie Shaw, 2011, etc.), the letters offer eloquent testimony to the writers’ deep affection. “I’m so grateful that we understand each other and feel alike,” Millar wrote. “Your letters are like tokens of goodness and kindness coming to me out of a terrible world,” Welty replied. In 1971, the two met for the first time in New York. “I feel that there wouldn't ever have been a time when we wouldn’t have been friends,” Welty wrote afterward. But they saw each other only rarely: in 1975, both were headliners at a writers conference in Santa Barbara, where Millar lived with his wife. Although Millar wrote about her affectionately, the editors reveal that the Millars’ marriage was strained, and Millar apparently had hidden Welty’s correspondence, discovered by a friend after his death. Both exulted in nature, especially birds: Millar noted white-crowned sparrows and a horned owl, Welty, warblers, kinglets, and gnatcatchers. The flight of sandhill cranes, Millar wrote, “was the greatest natural sight I ever witnessed.” They shared news of writing, reading, triumphs, and loss: Millar’s daughter died; Welty’s friend was murdered. In the late 1970s, to Welty’s dismay, Millar wrote of a “shadow on my memory and therefore on my mind.” He soon could not write, even to his beloved friend.

An intimate, luminous portrait of a friendship.

Pub Date: July 7, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-62872-527-8

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Arcade

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2015



Lg. Prt. 0-375-70288-1 This first nonfiction outing from singer/songwriter Buffett (Where Is Joe Merchant?, 1992, etc.) is more food for his Parrothead fans, but there is some fine writing along with the self-revelation. Half autobiography and half travelogue, this volume recounts a trip by Buffett and his family to the Caribbean over one Christmas holiday to celebrate the writer’s 50th birthday. Buffett is a licensed pilot, and his personal weakness is for seaplanes, so it’s primarily in this sort of craft that the family’s journey takes place. While giving beautiful descriptions of the locales to which he travels (including a very attractive portrait of Key West, from which he sets out), Buffett intersperses recollections of his first, short-lived marriage, his experiences in college and avoiding the Vietnam draft, and his brief employment at Billboard magazine’s Nashville bureau before becoming a professional musician. In the meantime, he carries his reader seamlessly through the Cayman Island, Costa Rica, Colombia, the Amazon basin, and Trinidad and Tobago. Buffett shows that he is a keen observer of Latin American culture and also that he can “pass” in these surroundings when he needs to. It’s perhaps on this latter point that this book finds its principal weakness. Buffett tends toward preachiness in addressing his mostly landlubber readers, as when he decries the seeming American inability to learn a second language while most Caribbeans can speak English; elsewhere he attacks “ugly Americans out there making it harder for us more-connected-to-the-local-culture types.” On the other hand, he seems right on the money when he observes that the drug war of the 1980s did little to stop trafficking in the area and that turning wetlands into helicopter pads for drug agents isn’t going to offer any additional help. Both Parrotheads and those with a taste for the Caribbean find something for their palates here. (Author tour)

Pub Date: July 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-679-43527-1

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1998



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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