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As Burroughs-iana, marginal. As satire, flat. As agitprop, clumsy and outdated.

A surrealistic action plan for would-be revolutionaries from the literary provocateur, prescribing a dash of viral marketing and a lot of political assassination.

Written and recorded in multiple forms in the early 1970s, this manifesto is an impassioned yet sometimes incoherent rebuke to ossified political ideologies, much as Burroughs’ fiction assailed literary conventions and even the countercultural ideals of the Beats he associated with. As a guide to “bring down the economic system of the West,” its recommendations are, effectively, terrorism: targeted and random assassinations, plane bombings, mobilized street gangs, and so on. Not all of the recommendations are violent, though, and some anticipate modern-day political meme strategies: “Construct fake news broadcasts on video camera,” he writes. “Scramble your fabricated news in with actual news broadcasts.” Some passages are marked by a righteously outraged humor, as when he imagines the masses rising up against the British monarchy and profanely chanting “bugger the queen.” That tonal shifting—sometimes funny, sometimes angry, sometimes coolly how-to-ish, as the title suggests—makes it unclear how seriously Burroughs took his call to arms. (He calls his mass-assassination plan a “utopian fantasy,” but he still contemplates it in detail.) Three academic essays introducing the book shed surprisingly little light on the matter, fussing over discrepancies between versions of the text, though a lively afterword by alternative publisher V. Vale argues that Burroughs was theorizing more than exhorting, chasing “outrageous scenarios and fresh language capable of inspiring readers decades into the future.” But even if Burroughs was indeed recommending mass killings, few would find much inspiration in this book’s slurry of ideologies, half-remembered history, and pseudoscience, as the author draws on crackpot Scientology doctrine and inexplicably suggests that we “produce a variety of humanoid sub-species.”

As Burroughs-iana, marginal. As satire, flat. As agitprop, clumsy and outdated.

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-8142-5489-9

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Ohio State Univ. Press

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2018

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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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