A reminder that daily ruminations of even a highly literate and engaging writer are not invariably erudite.

A READING DIARY

A PASSIONATE READER’S REFLECTIONS ON A YEAR OF BOOKS

Globetrotting polyglot Manguel (Reading Pictures, 2001, etc.) rereads favorite books, one per month, as the Iraq War simmers, then boils.

A chronicle of one’s reading is quickly becoming a popular subgenre among memoirists, and Manguel’s entry reflects his multilingual capabilities as well as his eclectic interests. To Wells, Kipling, and Doyle, he stirs in some Goethe and Cervantes, then spices the mixture with Dino Buzzati, Joaquim Maria Machado de Assis, and others. Manguel’s title fits. The diary format allows him to reflect on the writers and their texts but also on current events, dreams (including an affecting one about him and his late father dining in a restaurant), friends, houses, gardens, regrets, and surprises. His fondness for supplying long—perhaps overlong—quotations from other writers at times gives his text the feel of a commonplace work teetering on the brink of pretentiousness. And there are an awful lot of lists—e.g., favorite detective novels, favorite cities, fictional mad scientists, books he wishes he owned (Keats’s copy of Chapman’s Homer, etc.). The “diary” begins in June 2002 and concludes in May 2003; as the Iraq War moves from bombast to bombs, Manguel’s criticism of the Bush administration sharpens. There is, he says at last, no moral distinction between Saddam Hussein and George W. Bush. We hear too about his “new” house in France (it dates to the 13th century) and the shelving he’s installing to accommodate a personal collection that appears to rival the Great Library of Alexandria. Like many journals, this intermingles the profound with the trite and presents at least one grand irony: Manguel declares early that he doesn’t like people to sum up books for him, then spends the rest of his text practicing that very sin.

A reminder that daily ruminations of even a highly literate and engaging writer are not invariably erudite.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2004

ISBN: 0-374-24742-0

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2004

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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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IN MY PLACE

From the national correspondent for PBS's MacNeil-Lehrer Newshour: a moving memoir of her youth in the Deep South and her role in desegregating the Univ. of Georgia. The eldest daughter of an army chaplain, Hunter-Gault was born in what she calls the ``first of many places that I would call `my place' ''—the small village of Due West, tucked away in a remote little corner of South Carolina. While her father served in Korea, Hunter-Gault and her mother moved first to Covington, Georgia, and then to Atlanta. In ``L.A.'' (lovely Atlanta), surrounded by her loving family and a close-knit black community, the author enjoyed a happy childhood participating in activities at church and at school, where her intellectual and leadership abilities soon were noticed by both faculty and peers. In high school, Hunter-Gault found herself studying the ``comic-strip character Brenda Starr as I might have studied a journalism textbook, had there been one.'' Determined to be a journalist, she applied to several colleges—all outside of Georgia, for ``to discourage the possibility that a black student would even think of applying to one of those white schools, the state provided money for black students'' to study out of state. Accepted at Michigan's Wayne State, the author was encouraged by local civil-rights leaders to apply, along with another classmate, to the Univ. of Georgia as well. Her application became a test of changing racial attitudes, as well as of the growing strength of the civil-rights movement in the South, and Gault became a national figure as she braved an onslaught of hostilities and harassment to become the first black woman to attend the university. A remarkably generous, fair-minded account of overcoming some of the biggest, and most intractable, obstacles ever deployed by southern racists. (Photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-374-17563-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1992

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