ROAD TO HEAVEN

ENCOUNTERS WITH CHINESE HERMITS

Porter, who as ``Red Pine'' has written several studies of Eastern religions (The Zen Teachings of Bodhidharma, 1989, etc.— not reviewed), now clambers over the Chugnan mountains of central China in search of solitary mystics and saints. The author sets out in the spring of 1989 with photographer Steven Johnson, and immediately runs up against Beijing's official line that hermits no longer exist in China. But of course they do, and by bumping from mountain to mountain and knocking on one monastery door after another, Porter ferrets out nearly two dozen examples of what he calls ``the happiest and wisest people in China.'' Some readers may balk at Porter's description, for while a number of the hermits—mostly elderly Buddhist monks, though a few are nuns, young, or Taoist—radiate bliss, others talk of loneliness or sorrow. And while some offer simple truths (``If you don't practice, you achieve nothing''), others bat away Porter's questions (`` `What sort of practice do you do?'... Chi-Ch'eng: `I just pass the time' ''), or slip from truth to truism (``If someone is drowning and you can't swim, it doesn't do any good to jump in yourself''). But this matters little, since the hermits are charming and, in any case, the bulk of Porter's narrative consists not of hermit-chat but of a loose blend of history and travelogue. Porter unfolds a dizzying panorama of cliffs and valleys, crumbling monasteries and canny abbots, all the while discoursing on the rise of Taoism, its encounter with Buddhism, the lives of past hermits, the outlines of Tantra. Lessons emerge: the value of silence; the need to balance inner practice with community service; the differing aims of hermits, with some of them questing after immortality, others seeking escape from illusion. As travelogue/history, cluttered; as ethnographic resource, unique—and as for those hermits, they're the salt of the earth. (Thirty-three b&w photographs)

Pub Date: June 21, 1993

ISBN: 1-56279-041-2

Page Count: 256

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1993

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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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