LIFE WITHOUT ARMOUR

AN AUTOBIOGRAPHY

One of England's preeminent (and most prolific) postWW II novelists recounts his early life in this reserved but affecting memoir. For most writers, their vocation comes early and undoubtedly. Not so with Sillitoe (Out of the Whirlpool, 1988, etc.): Everything in his childhood seemed to weigh against writing. Born in Depression-era Nottingham to a destitute working-class family (think D.H. Lawrence, but darker still), he could expect little from life beyond a job on a local assembly line. He failed several high school entrance exams, and at the age of 14 he was bright and curious, an avid reader, but with no particular drive or ambition. However, he did have an inchoate urge to see the world. This led him to the RAF and service in Malaysia as a wireless operator. Though he enjoyed the air force, he chose not to reenlist and was all set to muster out and continue drifting when he was diagnosed with that most literary of diseases, tuberculosis. Recovering in the hospital, he suddenly and somehow found his calling and began devouring all the great books he'd missed . . . and began to write. Upon his discharge, he moved to Spain and devoted himself full-time to literature. Eight years and four unpublished novels later, he finally found success as Saturday Night and Sunday Morning and The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner were published to staggering acclaim. While all this is expertly narrated and makes abundantly clear the autobiographical roots of much of Sillitoe's work, the least satisfying element of this memoir is, paradoxically, Sillitoe himself. Perhaps it is his British reserve, but he allows us few glimpses of how the events of his life have adhered to his soul, so that, as a character, he seems flat and underrealized. Such reticence aside, this is a fine and memorable work, a testament to the powers of literature to reshape a life.

Pub Date: Sept. 23, 1996

ISBN: 0-00-255570-0

Page Count: 278

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1996

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...

THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE

50TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION

Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. AND THE MARCH ON WASHINGTON

This early reader is an excellent introduction to the March on Washington in 1963 and the important role in the march played by Martin Luther King Jr. Ruffin gives the book a good, dramatic start: “August 28, 1963. It is a hot summer day in Washington, D.C. More than 250,00 people are pouring into the city.” They have come to protest the treatment of African-Americans here in the US. With stirring original artwork mixed with photographs of the events (and the segregationist policies in the South, such as separate drinking fountains and entrances to public buildings), Ruffin writes of how an end to slavery didn’t mark true equality and that these rights had to be fought for—through marches and sit-ins and words, particularly those of Dr. King, and particularly on that fateful day in Washington. Within a year the Civil Rights Act of 1964 had been passed: “It does not change everything. But it is a beginning.” Lots of visual cues will help new readers through the fairly simple text, but it is the power of the story that will keep them turning the pages. (Easy reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-448-42421-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2000

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