BIG DREAMS

INTO THE HEART OF CALIFORNIA

A well-written but disappointing attempt to draw a big portrait of a big state, with lots of minutiae and generalizations, but not enough in between. Barich's midlife-crisis journey from Northern to Southern California has promise. Providing lots of historical details and describing interesting encounters with local people, he makes his way along major and minor roads in search of the real state behind all the myths and dreams. He goes from Indian reservations to the Haight, from San Joaquin Valley farming communities to Disneyland, from nutty Venice to mesas overlooking illegal immigration spots on the borders in an ambitious attempt to tell the story of California's attraction and appeal. Trouble is, it's a big, populous state, and even this longish book does not finally elucidate its complexity. And Barich (Hard to Be Good, 1987), for all of his library research, seems to miss points again and again as he wends his way southward. He sees the American Indians he encounters as passive and passionless others living in some sort of netherworld that he and people like him cannot touch. He finds among those dying of AIDS at San Francisco General Hospital only one sort of decaying, ungrateful patient. He observes of his other subjects only the most common stereotypes as well. Finally, it seems that he took the trouble of making the trip only to confirm what he read in books, rather than to achieve a rich and varied dialogical portrait of his land of dreams. An impressive style finds nowhere to go in this overly long, overly general book.

Pub Date: May 1, 1994

ISBN: 0-679-42151-3

Page Count: 544

Publisher: Pantheon

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 1994

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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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