Bryson is a real traveler, the kind of guy who can be entertained by (and be entertaining about) a featureless landscape...

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IN A SUNBURNED COUNTRY

Just in time for Sydney’s upcoming Olympic games, this travel narrative from veteran wanderer Bryson (I’m a Stranger Here Myself, 1999, etc.) provides an appreciative, informative, and hilarious portrait of the land Down Under.

“And so once more to the wandering road,” declares Bryson—which is music to the ears of his many deserving fans. This time it is Australia, a country tailor-made to surrender just the kind of amusing facts Bryson loves. It was here, after all, that the Prime Minister dove into the surf of Victoria one day and simply disappeared—the prime minister, mind you. There are more things here to kill you than anywhere else in the world: all of the ten most poisonous snakes, sharks and crocodiles in abundance, the paralytic tick, and venomous seashells that will “not just sting you but actually sometimes go for you.” A place harsh and hostile to life, “staggeringly empty yet packed with stuff. Interesting stuff, ancient stuff, stuff not readily explained.” And Bryson finds it everywhere: in the Aborigines (who evidently invented and mastered oceangoing craft 30,000 years before anyone else, then promptly forgot all about the sea), in the Outback (“where men are men and sheep are nervous”), in stories from the days of early European exploration (of such horrific proportions they can be appreciated only as farce), and in the numerous rural pubs (where Bryson learns the true meaning of a hangover). Bryson is still open to wonder at the end of his pilgrimage: the grand and noble Uluru (once known as Ayer’s Rock) reaches right down into his primordial memory and gives it a stir. “I’m just observing that if I were looking for an ancient starship this is where I would start digging. That’s all I'm saying.”

Bryson is a real traveler, the kind of guy who can be entertained by (and be entertaining about) a featureless landscape scattered with “rocks the color of bad teeth.” Fortunately for him and for us, there’s a lot more to Australia than that.

Pub Date: June 6, 2000

ISBN: 0-7679-0385-4

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Broadway

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2000

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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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SLEEPERS

An extraordinary true tale of torment, retribution, and loyalty that's irresistibly readable in spite of its intrusively melodramatic prose. Starting out with calculated, movie-ready anecdotes about his boyhood gang, Carcaterra's memoir takes a hairpin turn into horror and then changes tack once more to relate grippingly what must be one of the most outrageous confidence schemes ever perpetrated. Growing up in New York's Hell's Kitchen in the 1960s, former New York Daily News reporter Carcaterra (A Safe Place, 1993) had three close friends with whom he played stickball, bedeviled nuns, and ran errands for the neighborhood Mob boss. All this is recalled through a dripping mist of nostalgia; the streetcorner banter is as stilted and coy as a late Bowery Boys film. But a third of the way in, the story suddenly takes off: In 1967 the four friends seriously injured a man when they more or less unintentionally rolled a hot-dog cart down the steps of a subway entrance. The boys, aged 11 to 14, were packed off to an upstate New York reformatory so brutal it makes Sing Sing sound like Sunnybrook Farm. The guards continually raped and beat them, at one point tossing all of them into solitary confinement, where rats gnawed at their wounds and the menu consisted of oatmeal soaked in urine. Two of Carcaterra's friends were dehumanized by their year upstate, eventually becoming prominent gangsters. In 1980, they happened upon the former guard who had been their principal torturer and shot him dead. The book's stunning denouement concerns the successful plot devised by the author and his third friend, now a Manhattan assistant DA, to free the two killers and to exact revenge against the remaining ex-guards who had scarred their lives so irrevocably. Carcaterra has run a moral and emotional gauntlet, and the resulting book, despite its flaws, is disturbing and hard to forget. (Film rights to Propaganda; author tour)

Pub Date: July 10, 1995

ISBN: 0-345-39606-5

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Ballantine

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1995

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