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A creatively rendered, memorable memoir.

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Award-winning poet and writer Lanter (The Final Days, 2013, etc.) remembers growing up in rural Illinois during the middle of the 20th century.

Begun as a set of reminiscences to be shared with relatives at a family reunion, this personal narrative weaves recollections, gossip, popular songs, nursery rhymes, and the author’s own poems and photographs into a rich tapestry depicting life in the American Midwest from 1935 to 1955. Lanter tells of his immigrant ancestors of English, French and German descent; of his birth “six months and ten days” after his parents’ wedding, a fact that in his father’s mind forever marked him as “the symbol of his incarceration in a marriage he did not want.” He led a “happy, unencumbered” childhood “at the edge of the farm doing what rural people have always done to give meaning to their interests and concerns. We had work to help with, planting and digging potatoes and otherwise tending the garden.” In a one-room country schoolhouse and at a small-town high school, he stumbled through the maze of pubescence, victory gardens, blackouts, and maimed and broken veterans returning home from World War II. He tells of his love and aptitude for basketball and baseball, which opened the way for his escape to university, “out of the village, out of the welding shop and away from the coal mines where a number of my friends were already headed.” Lanter’s verse beautifully communicates the emotional content of the narrative, while the songs and rhymes he includes (“You’re in the Army Now,” “This Little Piggy Went to Market”)provide historical context as well as a bridge to shared childhood experiences. Though the text is at times heavy on details, it is a measure of the writer’s skill that the book’s diverse elements coalesce and invoke in readers a feeling of nostalgia for a past they may never have known.

A creatively rendered, memorable memoir.

Pub Date: Feb. 6, 2014

ISBN: 978-0983841227

Page Count: 458

Publisher: Twiss Hill Press

Review Posted Online: May 22, 2014

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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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