A revelatory meditation on reading, writing, and editing.

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RAYMOND CARVER'S WHAT WE TALK ABOUT WHEN WE TALK ABOUT LOVE

A celebration of a favorite writer deepens into an unexpectedly complex and ambivalent response.

Evenson (Critical Studies/CalArts; The Warren, 2016, etc.) first read Carver’s classic collection of minimalist fiction when he was an 18-year-old student intent on learning to write fiction himself. He wasn’t well-versed in Carver’s contemporaries, so he came to him from an unorthodox direction: “I had Beckett and Kafka as models for what I hoped literature could do,” he writes. “Which probably made me see Carver in a very eccentric light.” Adding to the eccentricity of the experience was the fact that Evenson was a Mormon and therefore abstained from alcohol, which fueled almost all of these stories and was such a struggle for Carver. Yet Evenson’s close readings proved profoundly influential, as he felt that Carver’s stories had “a productive ambiguity that stimulates a creative energy that keeps them active and alive in a way that books more insistent on ‘meaning something’ don’t manage.” Seeing Carver’s seminal fiction through Evenson’s eyes will bring readers back to the work fresh. Then things get trickier. Like the rest of the literary world, Evenson discovered just how aggressively editor Gordon Lish had refocused these stories, in some cases cutting as much as 80 percent from Carver’s original manuscript. As Carver moved away from the severity of such minimalism and published more detailed versions of some of these stories, Evenson thought that the new versions “felt less like the Carver I knew and more like stories that didn’t have his distinctive imprint.” Further complicating the issue is the fact that Evenson would subsequently have some ambivalent experiences with Lish as his editor and some stonewalling from the Carver estate while researching a piece on the Lish-Carver relationship. The author leaves no question that he remains grateful for the stories as he first encountered them and prefers them to the versions Carver favored, yet he identifies with how the author felt like an “imposter.”

A revelatory meditation on reading, writing, and editing.

Pub Date: March 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-63246-061-5

Page Count: 156

Publisher: Ig Publishing

Review Posted Online: Dec. 11, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2018

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An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

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BECOMING

The former first lady opens up about her early life, her journey to the White House, and the eight history-making years that followed.

It’s not surprising that Obama grew up a rambunctious kid with a stubborn streak and an “I’ll show you” attitude. After all, it takes a special kind of moxie to survive being the first African-American FLOTUS—and not only survive, but thrive. For eight years, we witnessed the adversity the first family had to face, and now we get to read what it was really like growing up in a working-class family on Chicago’s South Side and ending up at the world’s most famous address. As the author amply shows, her can-do attitude was daunted at times by racism, leaving her wondering if she was good enough. Nevertheless, she persisted, graduating from Chicago’s first magnet high school, Princeton, and Harvard Law School, and pursuing careers in law and the nonprofit world. With her characteristic candor and dry wit, she recounts the story of her fateful meeting with her future husband. Once they were officially a couple, her feelings for him turned into a “toppling blast of lust, gratitude, fulfillment, wonder.” But for someone with a “natural resistance to chaos,” being the wife of an ambitious politician was no small feat, and becoming a mother along the way added another layer of complexity. Throw a presidential campaign into the mix, and even the most assured woman could begin to crack under the pressure. Later, adjusting to life in the White House was a formidable challenge for the self-described “control freak”—not to mention the difficulty of sparing their daughters the ugly side of politics and preserving their privacy as much as possible. Through it all, Obama remained determined to serve with grace and help others through initiatives like the White House garden and her campaign to fight childhood obesity. And even though she deems herself “not a political person,” she shares frank thoughts about the 2016 election.

An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6313-8

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 30, 2018

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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