FINDING THE TRAPDOOR by Adam Hochschild

FINDING THE TRAPDOOR

Essays, Portraits, Travels

KIRKUS REVIEW

 A collection of magazine articles and time-bound reportage by the estimable Hochschild (The Unquiet Ghost: Russians Remember Stalin, 1994, etc.), cofounder of Mother Jones magazine. Hochschild is a thoughtful, discerning reporter and a solid writer, but some of this material may seem a little stale, like picking up a decade-old newsmagazine and reading about life in the Soviet Union. Still, he's quite good in pieces such as ``Aristocratic Revolutionary,'' a 1985 profile of Patrick Duncan, a white South African who was editor of an anti-apartheid paper in the early 1960s. One of his best pieces is a 1978 profile of Jan Yoors, a Belgian youth who ran away with the gypsies in 1934; Hochschild found the renowned author of The Gypsies and Crossing residing near Washington Square, a double amputee who made his living designing and weaving tapestries. Another visit finds the author in the French Alps with novelist and art critic John Berger, whom he liked ``because he was the first writer I've run across who could explain why so much fine art is boring.'' Hochschild traveled extensively for these pieces: Mississippi, the Soviet Union, Senegal, El Salvador, South Africa, the Amazon. One 1995 article finds him in Colombia to witness the Indians' ``startling migration in reverse'': They were leaving the towns and missions and ``rebuilding their traditional dwellings deep in the forest.'' A few literary essays are included, most notably a penetrating search for the young, sensitive Hemingway who existed before the myth, the ``Papa'' persona, the compulsive braggart, took over. And charmingly, this redoubtable peacenik of the '60s and '70s confesses to a lifelong addiction to war novels and books about combat. These pieces speak clearly to the times in which they were written, but not to the ages. (illustrations, not seen)

Pub Date: June 1st, 1997
ISBN: 0-8156-0447-5
Page count: 304pp
Publisher: Syracuse Univ.
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15th, 1997




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