A LONG WAY FROM ST. LOUIE by Colleen J. McElroy

A LONG WAY FROM ST. LOUIE

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KIRKUS REVIEW

 A lovely, lyrical memoir of an African-American woman's travels through life. McElroy (Queen of the Ebony Isles, etc.; English/Univ. of Washington) is a professor and poet with a yen for travel that goes back to her youth as an army brat and has continued throughout her life. Looking back at that life now, McElroy finds much that is amusing, thought-provoking, poignant, and above all beautiful to relate to her readers. This is not so much a travelogue, as the author herself admits, as a rumination, a meditation, a poem. McElroy tells us about learning to dance in St. Louis, about her experiences as a university student in postWW II Germany, her encounters with butterflies and intestinal ailments in Mexico, the limitations of tour groups and guides (``Here is the burial place of Saint What's-his-halo, and in that crypt, What's-his-sword the Great''), the difficulty of getting to Ulcinj in Yugoslavia (``An interesting place . . . but no one ever goes there''), and the importance of a smile in Japan (``a land where everything was compact and space was at a premium''). She writes prose poems about the midnight market in Lima, Peru, and a series of lyrical pieces, ``The Moon and Malaysia,'' that flow in and out of time and space. And through it all, McElroy's marvelous sense of humor shines out and her deeply felt sense of her otherness--as an American abroad and as a black woman everywhere--colors her musings, giving them texture and depth. This is a stunning piece of writing, and a fitting summary of a life led to the fullest.

Pub Date: April 30th, 1997
ISBN: 1-56689-059-4
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: Coffee House
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1st, 1997




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