The Boston Globe from Boston, Massachusetts on September 7, 1969 · 362
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The Boston Globe from Boston, Massachusetts · 362

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Boston, Massachusetts
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Sunday, September 7, 1969
Page:
362
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Books 13 Boston Sunday Globe Sept, 7, 1969 Formidable cast for 'A Beautiful Memoir' cooks, grandmothers, and character parts of that sort. Resourceful and spirited, she became a scriptwriter, and for many years she was MGM's Garbo expert, finding parts for and being a liaison with that magically gifted and difficult lady. She stayed long enough to become embroiled in the sordid witchhunt of the early fifties. Kafka, Werfel, Thomas and Heinrich Mann, Max and Gottfried Reinhardt child, but she was not at all pretty, and so everyone discouraged her about looking for a career in the theater. She made it anyway, being dynamic, eloquent, and, as it turned out, sexy. She married the author and director, Berthold Vier-tel, and their love endured till his death in 1953 (about the point that the memoir stops), long outlasting their fidelity and their marriage. In the twenties, the Vier- Novel in the grand manner (Gottfried was her lover for many years), Murnau, Eisenstein (this chapter is a horrifying contribution to the history of patronage), Schoenberg (she records a wonderful aphorism of his, "To compose is to cast a glance into the biography of a theme"), are among the dramatis personae of "The Kindness of Strangers." The account by an wideawake person of a life like the one Salka Viertel nas led would be fascinating simply because of the other lives with which her own Intersected. I had expected to find Mrs. Viertel's book interesting, but I was not prepared to find it so moving. It is moving because of the author's self-awareness, and because of her enormous capacity for love and affection, unsullied by even a trace of sentimentality. She has peopled her book with a formidable cast of scene-stealers, but its most commanding and enriching character is the woman whose "incorrigible heart," as she says, let her f.nd fulfilment wherever s.-.e was, and who, in hei seventies, was able to look or a far from easy or tranquil life and see it as a function of the kindness ov strangers. MICHAEL STEINBERG ( Mr. Steinberg is The Globe's music trittc.) THE KINDNESS OF STRANGERS, by Salha Vier-tel. Holt, Rinthart and Winston, N.Y., $6.95. "Kindness of Strangers" Is as beautiful a memoir as has come along in years. Salka Steuermann her brother was Edward Steuermann, the eminent composer and pianist of the Schoenberg circle was bom In Poland just before the turn of the century. She was a stage struck PAWN IN FRANKIN-CcNSE, by Dorothy Dan-nett. Putnam, 485 pp., $6.95. Here is a costume novel of derring-do in the grand manner. Miss Dunnett chooses the early 16th century "an age of magnificent cespotism and supreme meological rule" for this .atest adventure of the inscrutable, invincible, inordinately arrogant Francis Crawford of Lymond, half Scot, half Frenchman. This is the third in a series which .nciudes "the Game of -kings' and "Queens' Play," out the novel is complete in ea. Here we have Lymond leading a small band of reluctant followers through the Mediterranean to the Middle East in the search for a small boy who may or may not be his son. mere is a full complement of beautiful women, orave men, villains, traitors, sadists and one marvelously urawn plain-Jane English girl of 15 who manages to oridge the gap between pure phantasy and reality. The author is entirely at home in this period. She ex-plains in minute detail and with meticulous care the workings of a galley under the driving power of slave oarsmen. She brings alive the barren country and stricken poverty of the Middle East countryside as well as the violent and teeming life of the bazaars and the dockside cities. Finally, she takes you inside the fabulous seraglio of Sulemein the Magnificent, Sultan of Turkey and Lord of the Ottoman Empire where the English girl and the boy child have been taken as hostages. Here, in the chamber of the Sultan's favorite wife, is played the last scene a Mohammedan is pitted against Christian and there is little to choose between them in cruelty and double-dealing. This is a rich novel, and the reader will not soon forget the splendidly colored scenes, particularly in Stam-boul, capital of the Ottoman Empire and both the most luxurious and most corrupt city in the world. And to help orient him in the sometimes confused wanderings, the end papers offer an excellent map of the always exciting, dangerous, fascinating world bordering the Mediterranean. ELIZABETH BERNKOPF of in An Whodunit' must tels were part of the crowd of continental theater personalities that settled in Hollywood. Salka's career as an actress was about over. She took the Marie Dressier role in the German language version of "Anna Christie," offended at first at being offered a part created by someone much older than herslef, but she found that she was now too old, and still not pretty enough, for romantic roles, but not old enough to play motherly brilliant chess game, hero against villain, with living pawns including a woman and two small children. Only in this game, any captured piece is put to death immediately. The research and scholarship shown here raises it far above the usual period piece. The style is witty, if sometimes oblique, and the text is highly seasoned with Latin quotations, early French and Middle English poetry, even an occasional quote from the Prophet in the original language. their use of mediums in solutions of seemingly insolva-ble crimes. A most interesting passage contains the reason why Catholics make the best spiritualists. Compulsive reading. Heavily documented. Runs the gamut from gruesome to simply puzzling crimes. Will delight Whodunit fans. A copy should be in every legal and law enforcement library. ROY STRATTON (Mr. Stratton is author of "The Decorated Corpse" and "One Among Many.") MASS. 02138 TR 6-30C0 1 "GENTLEMEN, MORE DOLCE PLEASE!" Irreverent Memoir Thirty Yeas the CRIME AND THE PSY. CHIC WORLD, by Fred Archer. Morrow. 220 pp., $5.95. Fred Archer is an authority on spiritualism and psychical research. His book contains new revelations on the Jack The Ripper and other famous murder cases. Also revealed are the experiences of Mae West, Mme Benet, Revivalist Dwight Moody and the police forces of Canada, Holland, France, Greece, the United States, Belgium and England in Boston Symphony Orchestra 9S Ih)U&)QS tost is MostoM ! BY HARRY ELLIS DICKSON "I sat down and read the whole thing, and with enormous pleasure. It is the work of a fine and gentle man, a splendid musician, and a charming teller of stories. It is perceptive, funny, wise, and pleasingly naughty. Everyone interested in the music world will find it fascinating, and I cannot imagine that anyone with a special interest in the BSO would be able to resist it at all. Moreover, Chevalier Diclon is at least 94 right when he says that critics are an unnecessary evil." Michael Sternberg, Music Critic for The Boston Globe,- You'll agree with Mr. Steinberg when you read Harry Ellis Dickson's witty observations of all the people who malce the BSO one of the liveliest orchestras anywhere. Serge Koussevitsky, Gregor Piatigorsky, Pierre Monteux, Danny Kaye and many others light up a boolc which is In turn amusing, sad, and sentimental. It's spiced with photographs, and with drawings by Mme. Koussevitslcy. $7.50 The Harvard Coop Bookstore in Harvard Square has three floor of books, the largest selection in the Boston area. There are over 40,000 hardbound titles and some 20,000 paperbacks. Under the same roof is New England'! largest Record Shop and a Print Gallery second to none. Visit and shop the Coop Bookstore. Phone and mail orders promptry filled. HARVARD SQUARE, 1400 MASSACHUSETTS AVE.. CAMBRIDGE. mcm rress 25 Beacon Strtef &6rt&?, Mass-. 02tC8

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