The Grave of Alice B. Toklas: And Other Reports from the Past

Otto Friedrich, Author Henry Holt & Company $24.45 (384p) ISBN 978-0-8050-0903-3
A journalist for most of his working life, Friedrich ( Glenn Gould: A Life and Variations ) has collected in the process so many facts and anecdotes that each of the 13 essays here (some previously published in Esquire and Harper's ) is entertainingly packed with witty digression and opinion. In the title piece, he describes his attempt to find Toklas's grave in Pere-Lachaise cemetery in Paris, and detours into a touching memoir of his relationship with the elderly Californian, who had encouraged Friedrich as a neophyte novelist. Three articles are about music (on Mozart, on Scarlatti and ``On Watching Parsifal with Molly''), about which Friedrich denies he knows much--and proceeds to prove very informative. ``The Trial of Sergeant Walker'' gives the shocking background to the Hilton Head mutiny--which leaves the reader wondering why Abraham Lincoln is revered as the emancipator of slaves, given the craven treatment of black volunteers in the Union army. Most intriguing perhaps is the final essay, called simply ``Jimmy,'' a memoir of Friedrich's Paris acquaintanceship with the late James Baldwin. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1989
Release date: 01/01/1989
Paperback - 978-0-88064-128-9
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