Except for the fact that each pupil-teacher match involves a personal encounter that transcends the usual classroom...

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LIVE AND LEARN: Stories About Students and Their Teachers

Except for the fact that each pupil-teacher match involves a personal encounter that transcends the usual classroom relationship, there is no particular theme or viewpoint uniting these ten generally well-known short stories. Those from the pupils' points of view are the more diverse, ranging from T. H. White's episode (a bit over its head in this company) in which Wart learns about power from a fish to Barthelme's ""Me and Miss Mandible"" about a sixth grader (really a failed adult sent back for reprocessing) who ends up in the closet with the teacher. Of the five teacher subjects -- all pitifully far from the omniscient authoritarian model -- those of Paul Bowles, Henry James, Joyce Carol Oates and Bernard Malamud share a total and tragic involvement in the problems of their pupils, whom they are powerless (through fate or their own failings) to help. Despite Spinner's platitudinous introduction, what most strikes a reviewer gorged with books for young people is the comparative complexity, subtlety and aesthetic validity represented here. (Toni Cade Bambara's ""The Lesson,"" about a kinetic little gift's fury with the ""boring-ass,"" self-appointed educator who takes the neighborhood kids to see the price tags at F. A. O. Schwartz, is a masterpiece of contained ambiguity compared to Kristin Hunter's well made stories about growing up black [KR, p. 567].) Thus although there is nothing synergistic about the collection, if it gets the above-mentioned adult material (along with Philip Roth's ""The Conversion of the Jews"") on YA shelves, something has been accomplished.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1973

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1973