A brief, fascinating look at the virtues and vices of wanderlust.

GROWING UP AWAY FROM HOME

In her memoir, Hyatt recounts her experiences traveling peripatetically for years with her family.

Debut author Hyatt was born and raised in California and graduated from UC Berkeley in 1950 with a degree in zoology. She landed a position as a lab technician at the Atomic Energy Commission while her soon-to-be husband, Pete, was drafted into the Korean War. In 1951 they wed and moved to Virginia, where he was stationed. Pete was hired by United States Rubber International—a company with interests all over the world—and in 1956, after a stint in New York, they moved to Guatemala with their two young daughters. That trip launched years of breakneck travel across three continents, including stays in El Salvador, Iran, Brazil, Peru, and Colombia. There was never a shortage of hurdles to clear—unfamiliar languages, radically divergent cultures, and a host of logistical problems, including finding adequate health care and education for the children. In some cases, political unrest and violence loomed over them as grim realities. While in Colombia, a family the author befriended was subjected to the kidnapping and ransoming of their son. There was also family conflict—Pete’s parents strenuously objected to their grandchildren being moved to Tehran. The sometimes-exciting but also alienating effects of serial dislocation finally took their toll on Hyatt’s marriage, which ultimately ended in divorce. The author often supplements her narrative with letters she wrote at the time to her mother, which are like little epistolary time capsules. And while the focus of the remembrance is personal and familial, the historical backdrop often referenced is the Cold War and the way geopolitical circumstances affected this band of expatriates. The author writes in clear, accessible prose and is impressively forthcoming. Also, the memoir is a kind of historical travelogue, vividly depicting quarters of the world not always traveled by Westerners. Hyatt’s work is not a philosophically minded retrospective, and so the reader looking for more in-depth commentary on world affairs, or even her own life, might be disappointed. Interspersed throughout the book are black-and-white photographs chronicling the author’s travels, some of them grainy from age and most of them personal.

A brief, fascinating look at the virtues and vices of wanderlust.

Pub Date: Jan. 9, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-692-81386-7

Page Count: 166

Publisher: Chris Culler

Review Posted Online: Oct. 15, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2018

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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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Necessarily swift and adumbrative as well as inclusive, focused, and graceful.

A LITTLE HISTORY OF POETRY

A light-speed tour of (mostly) Western poetry, from the 4,000-year-old Gilgamesh to the work of Australian poet Les Murray, who died in 2019.

In the latest entry in the publisher’s Little Histories series, Carey, an emeritus professor at Oxford whose books include What Good Are the Arts? and The Unexpected Professor: An Oxford Life in Books, offers a quick definition of poetry—“relates to language as music relates to noise. It is language made special”—before diving in to poetry’s vast history. In most chapters, the author deals with only a few writers, but as the narrative progresses, he finds himself forced to deal with far more than a handful. In his chapter on 20th-century political poets, for example, he talks about 14 writers in seven pages. Carey displays a determination to inform us about who the best poets were—and what their best poems were. The word “greatest” appears continually; Chaucer was “the greatest medieval English poet,” and Langston Hughes was “the greatest male poet” of the Harlem Renaissance. For readers who need a refresher—or suggestions for the nightstand—Carey provides the best-known names and the most celebrated poems, including Paradise Lost (about which the author has written extensively), “Kubla Khan,” “Ozymandias,” “The Charge of the Light Brigade,” Wordsworth and Coleridge’s Lyrical Ballads, which “changed the course of English poetry.” Carey explains some poetic technique (Hopkins’ “sprung rhythm”) and pauses occasionally to provide autobiographical tidbits—e.g., John Masefield, who wrote the famous “Sea Fever,” “hated the sea.” We learn, as well, about the sexuality of some poets (Auden was bisexual), and, especially later on, Carey discusses the demons that drove some of them, Robert Lowell and Sylvia Plath among them. Refreshingly, he includes many women in the volume—all the way back to Sappho—and has especially kind words for Marianne Moore and Elizabeth Bishop, who share a chapter.

Necessarily swift and adumbrative as well as inclusive, focused, and graceful.

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-300-23222-6

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Yale Univ.

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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