STRONG OPINIONS

Hauteur is Nabokov's middle name. Even when admitting to intellectual lacunae, he does so with the air of an aristocrat putting a peasant in his place: "I am completely ignorant of Wittgenstein's works, and the first time I heard his name must have been in the fifties. In Cambridge I played football and wrote Russian verse." This is a great way of getting through life. Such self-assurance usually charms people or cows them. Either way it insures one's supreme independence, both allows one to preen one's own feathers and snip at the plumage of rival peacocks. Strong Opinions — a collection of Nabokov's articles, interviews, letters to editors, and fugitive book reviews — is a marvel of malicious glee, deft phrases, and iconoclastic absurdities. His literary judgments, in particular, are deliciously haywire, as if a lunatic had been reading too much of Oscar Wilde: "Finnegan's Wake is nothing but a formless and dull mass of phony folklore, a cold pudding of a book, a persistent snore in the next room, most aggravating to the insomniac I am." Since this sort of whimsy goes on for pages and pages, Strong Opinions is less a portrait of Nabokov the master novelist, or even Nabokov the narcissist, than it is a little joke book concocted by Nabokov the funnyman, whose favorite American films, not too surprisingly, are those of the Marx Brothers. How cold intellects love Groucho and his nutty family! But can one picture Nabokov in a Marx Brothers film? Perhaps — as a replacement for Margaret Dumont, the statuesque stuffy society grande dame.

Pub Date: Nov. 12, 1973

ISBN: 0679726098

Page Count: 367

Publisher: McGraw-Hill

Review Posted Online: Oct. 1, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1973

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1996

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

IN MY PLACE

From the national correspondent for PBS's MacNeil-Lehrer Newshour: a moving memoir of her youth in the Deep South and her role in desegregating the Univ. of Georgia. The eldest daughter of an army chaplain, Hunter-Gault was born in what she calls the ``first of many places that I would call `my place' ''—the small village of Due West, tucked away in a remote little corner of South Carolina. While her father served in Korea, Hunter-Gault and her mother moved first to Covington, Georgia, and then to Atlanta. In ``L.A.'' (lovely Atlanta), surrounded by her loving family and a close-knit black community, the author enjoyed a happy childhood participating in activities at church and at school, where her intellectual and leadership abilities soon were noticed by both faculty and peers. In high school, Hunter-Gault found herself studying the ``comic-strip character Brenda Starr as I might have studied a journalism textbook, had there been one.'' Determined to be a journalist, she applied to several colleges—all outside of Georgia, for ``to discourage the possibility that a black student would even think of applying to one of those white schools, the state provided money for black students'' to study out of state. Accepted at Michigan's Wayne State, the author was encouraged by local civil-rights leaders to apply, along with another classmate, to the Univ. of Georgia as well. Her application became a test of changing racial attitudes, as well as of the growing strength of the civil-rights movement in the South, and Gault became a national figure as she braved an onslaught of hostilities and harassment to become the first black woman to attend the university. A remarkably generous, fair-minded account of overcoming some of the biggest, and most intractable, obstacles ever deployed by southern racists. (Photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-374-17563-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1992

Did you like this book?

more