In this short collection of essays (some previously published in Antaeus and other literary reviews), Pulitzer Prizewinning poet Simic (Hotel Insomnia, 1992, etc.) brings off a masterfully casual beauty, whether discussing the creation of poetry and the poet's social role, praising food and the blues, or relating the travails of youth. Suspicious of all absolutist thought, the Yugoslavia-born Simic (English/Univ. of New Hampshire) is a committed individualist and, like some Eastern bloc poets who have endured socialist realism, a humorous surrealist. In deceptively discursive and casual prose, he touches on simple subjects to delve into deeper matters—for example, an autobiographical sketch chronicles his search for the meaning of human happiness in terms of favorite dishes, including Yugoslavian burek and American potato chips. Whether the subject matter is as academic as Surrealist composition, or as contemporary as the genetic engineering of his favorite fruit, the tomato, Simic gregariously mixes personal conversations with literary quotations (or, just as appositely, folk sayings and songs), and his prose can suddenly flare up into startling images: ``Words make love on the page like flies in the summer heat.'' These essays' variety of approaches and subjects shows the eclectic mix of true multiculturalism, for Simic is an intellectual in the postwar model of immigrant cum exile, versed in European traditions yet enthusiastic about American culture as well. This comes into sharpest relief in his essay on murderous nationalism in Yugoslavia and his album of snapshot reminiscences of Belgrade, Chicago, and New York City. Sometimes, though, Simic's light touch fails to leave a lasting impression on the serious philosophical subjects he addresses, his selection of notebook aphorisms are hit-or-miss, and a couple of brief essays are simply culled from introductions. In one odd notebook jotting Simic projects creating a ``nongenre made up of fiction, autobiography, the essay, poetry, and of course, the joke!''—an apt description of this collection's hodge-podge charm.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1994

ISBN: 0-472-09569-2

Page Count: 144

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1994

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...



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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This early reader is an excellent introduction to the March on Washington in 1963 and the important role in the march played by Martin Luther King Jr. Ruffin gives the book a good, dramatic start: “August 28, 1963. It is a hot summer day in Washington, D.C. More than 250,00 people are pouring into the city.” They have come to protest the treatment of African-Americans here in the US. With stirring original artwork mixed with photographs of the events (and the segregationist policies in the South, such as separate drinking fountains and entrances to public buildings), Ruffin writes of how an end to slavery didn’t mark true equality and that these rights had to be fought for—through marches and sit-ins and words, particularly those of Dr. King, and particularly on that fateful day in Washington. Within a year the Civil Rights Act of 1964 had been passed: “It does not change everything. But it is a beginning.” Lots of visual cues will help new readers through the fairly simple text, but it is the power of the story that will keep them turning the pages. (Easy reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-448-42421-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2000

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