An Irish novelist (The Heather Blazing, 1993, etc.) and journalist reports on his visits to centers of Catholic devotion in Europe, as he attempts to make sense of his own conflicted relationship with the faith he has abandoned. Beginning with reminiscences of his Irish upbringing, Tóibín takes us to Poland, France, Italy, Spain, the post-communist worlds of the Balkans, Lithuania, and Estonia, and to Great Britain. Much of the material has been reworked from pieces written for the Irish press, and the result, though occasionally uneven, is a stimulating blend of vivid travelogue and passionate inner searching. We read of Holy Week processions, such as those of Seville, with their life-size statues of the crucified Christ and the sorrowful Virgin, accompanied by brass bands and hundreds of hooded penitents. We follow our author in the pilgrimages to Compostella and up the rugged heights of Croagh Patrick in Ireland. Midway through his narrative he tells of his searing experience in group therapy, when he first acknowledged his grief over his father's death and, in spite of himself, found the sign of the cross emerging from his psyche as a healing symbol. Throughout his travels, Tóibín has the keen eye of an intrigued skeptic: What does all this mean to these people? How can they believe in it? Only once, when he is blessed by Marija, one of the young visionaries of Medjugorje in Croatia, does he briefly move beyond his own experience of Catholicism as a form of social control. Always the outsider, he interviews many interesting people, such as Catholic Slovakian intellectuals and prominent English converts from Anglicanism, but he holds back from speaking to, rather than about, the very people whose devotion so disturbs and fascinates him. A very Irish view of Europe and Catholicism, likely to appeal to those whose inner search also takes them beyond themselves.

Pub Date: Sept. 20, 1995

ISBN: 0-679-44203-0

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Pantheon

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1995

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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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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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