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COACH RIDLEY’S BASKETBALL GLORY

THE CAREER OF CORNELIUS RIDLEY AT PEARL HIGH SCHOOL FIRST HALF 1960-1969

A detailed, dedicated and enjoyable remembrance.

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Smith, daughter of the titular coach, examines and remembers historically black Pearl High School and its famous basketball coach.

Basketball might be the centerpiece in this first of two volumes on Pearl High School and its legendary coach, but the many intangibles leading to the program’s dramatic success describe the book’s essence. Smith is the daughter and unwavering supporter of Coach Cornelius Ridley, who, for more than 20 years, served as mentor, disciplinarian and sometimes father figure to Pearl’s students, ballplayers and eventual men. This first volume chronicles the 1960s, described as a journey from segregation to integration. Smith deftly alternates between depicting the outstanding basketball program and the man who brought its excellence to the fore. This, in turn, is skillfully interwoven into the school’s rich history, complete with portrayals of dedicated educators and cohesive neighborhoods. The author’s analysis and quality research blends well with her personal touch. Basketball fans and archival buffs alike will appreciate the proficient use and display of news articles, interviews, photos, letters, box scores and even Western Union telegrams. The text’s tone suggests an earnestness that seems to have been handed from father to daughter. Smith can sometimes be overstated in her occasional black-and-white representations of items like character, values or relationships, but even a casual reader would expect this type of writing with a familial connection. This distraction is slight and certainly doesn’t take away from the author’s adept examination of critical, enduring issues. Smith discusses basketball equally well with the Secondary School Study of 1940 or Nashville’s mathematical formula for determining desegregation numbers (both listed in the appendix). It is, indeed, her examination of such issues that merges so well with a story that is attentive, nostalgic and just plain fun. One item that seems curiously missing, at least for the dedicated sports fan, is more coverage of the 1966 historic ballgame—Pearl’s championship in the first real year of integration. The account, otherwise, is a definite must for various libraries and repositories, especially those involved with sports and history. Includes end notes, references, appendices and index.

A detailed, dedicated and enjoyable remembrance.

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2011

ISBN: 978-1438972527

Page Count: 225

Publisher: AuthorHouse

Review Posted Online: Dec. 23, 2011

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TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD

A first novel, this is also a first person account of Scout's (Jean Louise) recall of the years that led to the ending of a mystery, the breaking of her brother Jem's elbow, the death of her father's enemy — and the close of childhood years. A widower, Atticus raises his children with legal dispassion and paternal intelligence, and is ably abetted by Calpurnia, the colored cook, while the Alabama town of Maycomb, in the 1930's, remains aloof to their divergence from its tribal patterns. Scout and Jem, with their summer-time companion, Dill, find their paths free from interference — but not from dangers; their curiosity about the imprisoned Boo, whose miserable past is incorporated in their play, results in a tentative friendliness; their fears of Atticus' lack of distinction is dissipated when he shoots a mad dog; his defense of a Negro accused of raping a white girl, Mayella Ewell, is followed with avid interest and turns the rabble whites against him. Scout is the means of averting an attack on Atticus but when he loses the case it is Boo who saves Jem and Scout by killing Mayella's father when he attempts to murder them. The shadows of a beginning for black-white understanding, the persistent fight that Scout carries on against school, Jem's emergence into adulthood, Calpurnia's quiet power, and all the incidents touching on the children's "growing outward" have an attractive starchiness that keeps this southern picture pert and provocative. There is much advance interest in this book; it has been selected by the Literary Guild and Reader's Digest; it should win many friends.

Pub Date: July 11, 1960

ISBN: 0060935464

Page Count: 323

Publisher: Lippincott

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1960

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A LITTLE LIFE

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

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Four men who meet as college roommates move to New York and spend the next three decades gaining renown in their professions—as an architect, painter, actor and lawyer—and struggling with demons in their intertwined personal lives.

Yanagihara (The People in the Trees, 2013) takes the still-bold leap of writing about characters who don’t share her background; in addition to being male, JB is African-American, Malcolm has a black father and white mother, Willem is white, and “Jude’s race was undetermined”—deserted at birth, he was raised in a monastery and had an unspeakably traumatic childhood that’s revealed slowly over the course of the book. Two of them are gay, one straight and one bisexual. There isn’t a single significant female character, and for a long novel, there isn’t much plot. There aren’t even many markers of what’s happening in the outside world; Jude moves to a loft in SoHo as a young man, but we don’t see the neighborhood change from gritty artists’ enclave to glitzy tourist destination. What we get instead is an intensely interior look at the friends’ psyches and relationships, and it’s utterly enthralling. The four men think about work and creativity and success and failure; they cook for each other, compete with each other and jostle for each other’s affection. JB bases his entire artistic career on painting portraits of his friends, while Malcolm takes care of them by designing their apartments and houses. When Jude, as an adult, is adopted by his favorite Harvard law professor, his friends join him for Thanksgiving in Cambridge every year. And when Willem becomes a movie star, they all bask in his glow. Eventually, the tone darkens and the story narrows to focus on Jude as the pain of his past cuts deep into his carefully constructed life.  

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-53925-8

Page Count: 720

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Dec. 21, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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