The ninth volume of tidbits of stylistic wit and wisdom from a man willing to display his grammar in public. A letter calling a political column by Safire (In Love with Norma Loquendi, 1994, etc.) ``a pack of damn lies'' earns the letter writer a mention in Safire's New York Times Sunday Magazine ``On Language'' column, source of the articles in this lively collection. ``That comment troubled me,'' Safire says. ``Should it be damn lies or damned lies?'' He opts for damned, explaining that the first form is grounded in speech, and the second in meaning. As he says, ``speech can be loose but writing should be tight.'' This sentiment may lure copy editors to his side, at least until they reach the section entitled ``Let's Kill All the Copy Editors.'' Here Safire explores capitalization preferences and compound adjectives, concluding that style should be based upon function, not fad. His engaging language-maven persona puts him securely on a shortlist of people who can get away with grousing about the lack of subject and verb agreement in ``For the wages of sin is death''; but let him put a (metaphorical) foot wrong, and folks note it with something approaching, well, damned glee. For example, after he berates New York State lawmakers for using a legal guide ``shot through with grammatical errors,'' a correspondent points out that ``grammatical errors'' is an oxymoron. The collection is seasoned with the whimsy language-lovers have come to expect. Consider the musings on what to call Ross Perot's supporters. When Safire ponders and rejects Perotites, Peronistas, and Perotniks, his readers counter with Perotselytes, Perotnoiacs, and the rather tastier Perogies. Yet again, readers will find that Safire's apparently endless capacity to be fascinated by language is highly contagious.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1997

ISBN: 0-679-42387-7

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1997

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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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