A SLIP OF THE KEYBOARD

COLLECTED NONFICTION

Lit throughout by the bright star of wonder.

The celebrated creator of the Discworld series of fantasy novels offers an eclectic collection of pieces and speeches from as early as the 1970s.

Pratchett (The Long Mars, 2014, etc.), who has Alzheimer’s disease, writes often about his enemy-illness in this thematic collection. The author “went public” with his illness at the time of his diagnosis and has proved a worthy adversary of the illness and advocate for increased medical research. Throughout this inimitable collection, a number of traits and themes emerge. His biting—often self-deprecating—wit is evident on nearly every page, as is his wonder at being the literary celebrity that he is. He most assuredly realizes and is profoundly grateful for his stellar fortune, and he defends his genre both with humor and with passion (he believes that most fiction is fantasy) and repeatedly credits his predecessors and literary mentors, especially Tolkien, whose Lord of the Rings, he tells us, he used to reread every summer. Pratchett writes about his own religious beliefs—or, rather, lack of them. “I don’t think I’ve found God,” he wrote in 2008, “but I may have seen where gods come from.” He also rails against aspects of society he finds repellant; number crunchers and warmongers come in for some special disdain. The author has keen thoughts about education, as well, arguing that we should first erect a library and then build a school around it, and he blasts those who ignore the health of the environment. There is some repetition—not unexpected in a collection ranging over several decades. He writes continually about his affection for The Wind in the Willows, a book that captured and changed him in boyhood. He offers some advice for would-be fantasy writers (“You need to know how your world works”) and reminds us that at the heart of the genre is hope. Pratchett’s close friend and fellow literary celebrity Neil Gaiman provides the foreword.

Lit throughout by the bright star of wonder.

Pub Date: Sept. 23, 2014

ISBN: 978-0385538305

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Aug. 10, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2014

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NUTCRACKER

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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TO THE ONE I LOVE THE BEST

EPISODES FROM THE LIFE OF LADY MENDL (ELSIE DE WOLFE)

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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