cover image Words and Worlds: From Autobiography to Zippers

Words and Worlds: From Autobiography to Zippers

Alison Lurie. Delphinium, $25 (240p) ISBN 978-1-88328578-4

The 21 essays assembled here range in length from several paragraphs to a score of pages, but all are stimulating and entertaining in equal measure. After two personal and candid short memoirs about her life as a writer, wife, and mother, novelist Lurie (Familiar Spirits) follows her fancy in selections that touch on a broad range of subjects: a fascinating behind-the-scenes look at Jonathan Miller’s celebrated 1974 staging of Hamlet in “What Happened in Hamlet”; an affectionate tribute to Ted (Edward) Gorey, her best friend for decades, in “Edward Gorey”; astute evaluations of Pinocchio, Babar the Elephant, Harry Potter, and other characters from children’s literature; and appraisals of knitting, aprons, zippers, and aspects of fashion that extend her 1981 study The Language of Clothes. Lurie approaches all of her subjects with the acumen of a seasoned critic but frequently draws on her skills as a Pulitzer Prize–winning fiction writer to give shape to her thoughts, as when she wryly describes the circumlocutions in critical papers written by deconstructionists as giving “the impression that their authors are flies struggling in the sticky verbal strands of theoretical discourse.” Lovers of literature and the arts will find this a delightful and rewarding volume. [em]Agent: Melanie Jackson, Melanie Jackson Agency. (May) [/em]