UNDER THE BIG TOP

A SEASON WITH THE CIRCUS

Here is a trip to the circus to be enjoyed by sociologists, etymologists, history buffs, and the morose of all ages. Feiler (Learning to Bow, 1991, etc.) spends a season in whiteface with the Clyde BeattyCole Brothers troupe to prove his theory that the circus is in many ways a microcosm of life in the US. By interviewing everyone from the prop guy to the human cannonball, he spotlights a diversity of lifestyles, a mosaic of races and prejudices, and a family unity that, indeed, seem uniquely American. Along the way we are provided with a rich education in circus history, a compendium of popular phrases that were born beneath the big top, and a primer on the finer points of classic acts. Those seeking the difference between European and American styles of tiger training need look no further. Those who think that performers have it easy need only hear the words of an acrobat: ``I have to make it exciting. Not only can I hang by my hair but I can juggle while hanging by my hair.'' There is humor, but most of all there is pain: physical pain, romantic heartache, weariness, and familial tragedy. In their perseverance, the 200 or so troupe members show themselves to be what they most want to be recognized as: simply human. With subject matter as intriguing as this, Feiler does well to maintain an unembellished narrative voice. However, the structure he relies on, a play-by-play of what's up in the ring intercut with what is really going down in the performer's life, seems forced. And his inability to resist ending nearly every chapter with a cliffhanger sentence merits a pie in the face. In the age-old tradition of truth coming from the mouth of a fool, this clown's rendition of circus life bounds with humanity. (Author tour)

Pub Date: June 12, 1995

ISBN: 0-684-19758-8

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 1995

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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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