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A great read for Styron devotees, but fans of correspondence will miss the conversational quality of most letter collections.

A good portion of William Styron’s personal and business correspondence brought together in one volume.

Starting with letters written to his father while at college, this book also includes writings to early girlfriends, an influential professor, Army buddies, other notable authors, fans, agents and others. The author wrote about a wide variety of subjects, including literature, politics, illness and sex. Styron’s distaste for critics (particularly those who didn’t appreciate his work) was a frequent subject, as were his struggles with writing and self-doubt. With so much ground covered, it is impossible not to learn some fascinating new tidbit about Styron’s life. Unfortunately, editors Styron and Gilpin (John Brown Still Lives!: America's Long Reckoning with Violence, Equality, and Change, 2011, etc.) do not include a single letter written to Styron, which leaves many stories half-told. While some of the one-sided correspondence is explained via the frequent footnotes, most of it is not. Gilpin notes in his introduction that footnoted material was kept to a minimum and only included when necessary. However, many footnotes seem inconsequential at best. For instance, Gilpin explains certain facts that seem obvious, such as Shirley Temple’s status as a famous child actress. Such notes can be abrasive in a 650-page book, often proving distracting rather than edifying. The William Styron timeline at the beginning, however, is helpful.

A great read for Styron devotees, but fans of correspondence will miss the conversational quality of most letter collections.

Pub Date: Dec. 4, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4000-6806-7

Page Count: 672

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Oct. 6, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2012

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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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