A fine book about books that will appeal to readers of Manguel’s previous work.



Graceful essays on books, reading, and the subversive possibilities of ideas.

Late in this gathering of occasional pieces, Manguel (A History of Reading, 1996, etc.) takes issue with Auden’s famous pronouncement that poetry makes nothing happen. “I don’t believe that to be true,” Manguel writes. “Not every book is an epiphany, but many times we have sailed guided by a luminous page or beacon of verse.” Generous in his praise of life-changing books, Manguel notes his own epiphanies, from discovering the horrible power of anti-Semitism as a child in Argentina (where, he tells us, he used to read aloud to the blind writer Jorge Luis Borges) to exploring the almost-occult history of gay literature. Some of Manguel’s essays will send thoughtful readers to the shelves to seek out underappreciated writers, such as G.K. Chesterton (whom Manguel praises for his humor and vigorous prose) and Mario Vargas Llosa (the Peruvian novelist and sometime politician whom Manguel does not hesitate to label one of the 20th century’s greats). Some of these pieces, crafted as introductions, magazine articles, and talks, are slight, some even peevish—such as Manguel’s diatribe against Anglo-American book editors (“Before going out into the world, every writer of fiction in North America and most of the Commonwealth acquires, as it were, a literary back-seat driver”). But most are well-considered celebrations of the pleasures of culture, from museum-going to walking the streets of a major capital, from turning the pages of Ray Bradbury’s Martian Chronicles to finding an unanticipated ally in a writer one has newly discovered.

A fine book about books that will appeal to readers of Manguel’s previous work.

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-15-601265-0

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2000

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



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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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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