OPERATING INSTRUCTIONS

A JOURNAL OF MY SON'S FIRST YEAR

Novelist Lamott (All New People, 1989, etc.) nimbly plunders stores of self-mockery in her role as a new mother and single parent. Born August 29, 1989, baby Sam is "like moonlight," and wastes no time in stealing his mother's heart with his beauty and his thin, "Christlike" feet. He and Lamott have thoroughly bonded by the time he turns into a colicky, crying, angry evening storm. Here, in regular journal entries, the author follows Sam's progress, fears for her milk supply, hates her thighs—which slap together with postpartum sag—and worries that she may be headed for collapse. She decides, in short, to give him back—to wherever he came from. He may be a baby, but he's scum. Still, Sam remains an endearing and veritable presence in these pages, but he's continuously upstaged by Lamott's wry efforts to get a grip on her ever-wavering self-esteem and her unwillingness to engage in any truth-varnishing when it comes to the ever-so-bumpy road of mothering. Through it all, Lamott's surrounded by a crazy quilt of loving folk who make the latter-day nuclear family seem quaint. Even so, the author occasionally laments that pivotal problem of single parenthood: that if she always knows where the baby is, it's because she's usually the only one around to hold him. Throughout, Lamott provides a sense of ordinary domesticity, interrupted and then rendered extraordinary by moments of peripatetic musings. One need not be a new parent to appreciate Lamott's glib and gritty good humor in the face of annihilating weariness. She'll nourish fans with her entries, and give birth to new ones as well.

Pub Date: May 1, 1993

ISBN: 0-679-42091-6

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Pantheon

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 1993

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

NUTCRACKER

This is not the Nutcracker sweet, as passed on by Tchaikovsky and Marius Petipa. No, this is the original Hoffmann tale of 1816, in which the froth of Christmas revelry occasionally parts to let the dark underside of childhood fantasies and fears peek through. The boundaries between dream and reality fade, just as Godfather Drosselmeier, the Nutcracker's creator, is seen as alternately sinister and jolly. And Italian artist Roberto Innocenti gives an errily realistic air to Marie's dreams, in richly detailed illustrations touched by a mysterious light. A beautiful version of this classic tale, which will captivate adults and children alike. (Nutcracker; $35.00; Oct. 28, 1996; 136 pp.; 0-15-100227-4)

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 1996

ISBN: 0-15-100227-4

Page Count: 136

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1996

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

more