Not just some of the country’s finest personal journalism, but some of its finest journalism, period.

A collection of first-person journalism edited by former Washington Post reporter Harrington (The Everlasting Stream, 2002, etc.).

Harrington (Literary Journalism/Univ. of Illinois, Urban-Champaign) here aims to dispel the old journalistic cliché: that a journalist writing about him/herself is always “self-indulgent and, quite likely, narcissistic.” He couldn’t have put together a better lineup of writers to make the point that it doesn’t have to be. Scott Anderson’s “Prisoners of War,” a 40-page mini-opus about the thrill and horror of being a war reporter, depicts with astonishing honesty the almost limitless selfishness that moves danger-seekers. The author flickers back and forth between his quixotic, quite possibly insane search for a missing man in one of the most dangerous parts of Chechnya and his near-execution, along with brother Jon Lee Anderson (known for his reports from Baghdad), at the hands of Tamil Tigers. Anderson’s piece is almost matched by Davis Miller’s “My Dinner with Ali,” in which the writer goes looking for the aged boxer and ends up practically getting adopted by the champ’s family, who are quite used to Ali bringing home strays. Even lesser pieces are well executed: “A Day at the Dogfights” may be laden with tired hardboiled clichés, but Harry Crews crams it fit to burst with vivid imagery; and Mike Sager’s “Last Tango in Tahiti,” the Apocalypse Now–esque story of hunting down Marlon Brando for an interview, is as funny as it is self-aggrandizing. “Her Blue Haven” is a Sunday-magazine-style recollection by L.A. sportswriter Bill Plaschke of his meeting with a rabid Dodgers fan afflicted with cerebral palsy. It could have been the most sentimental piece of the bunch; instead, it is a crushingly painful story rendered with true beauty.

Not just some of the country’s finest personal journalism, but some of its finest journalism, period.

Pub Date: Sept. 9, 2005

ISBN: 0-8021-4224-9

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Grove

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2005



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




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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