A detailed, dedicated and enjoyable remembrance.



Smith, daughter of the titular coach, examines and remembers historically black Pearl High School and its famous basketball coach.

Basketball might be the centerpiece in this first of two volumes on Pearl High School and its legendary coach, but the many intangibles leading to the program’s dramatic success describe the book’s essence. Smith is the daughter and unwavering supporter of Coach Cornelius Ridley, who, for more than 20 years, served as mentor, disciplinarian and sometimes father figure to Pearl’s students, ballplayers and eventual men. This first volume chronicles the 1960s, described as a journey from segregation to integration. Smith deftly alternates between depicting the outstanding basketball program and the man who brought its excellence to the fore. This, in turn, is skillfully interwoven into the school’s rich history, complete with portrayals of dedicated educators and cohesive neighborhoods. The author’s analysis and quality research blends well with her personal touch. Basketball fans and archival buffs alike will appreciate the proficient use and display of news articles, interviews, photos, letters, box scores and even Western Union telegrams. The text’s tone suggests an earnestness that seems to have been handed from father to daughter. Smith can sometimes be overstated in her occasional black-and-white representations of items like character, values or relationships, but even a casual reader would expect this type of writing with a familial connection. This distraction is slight and certainly doesn’t take away from the author’s adept examination of critical, enduring issues. Smith discusses basketball equally well with the Secondary School Study of 1940 or Nashville’s mathematical formula for determining desegregation numbers (both listed in the appendix). It is, indeed, her examination of such issues that merges so well with a story that is attentive, nostalgic and just plain fun. One item that seems curiously missing, at least for the dedicated sports fan, is more coverage of the 1966 historic ballgame—Pearl’s championship in the first real year of integration. The account, otherwise, is a definite must for various libraries and repositories, especially those involved with sports and history. Includes end notes, references, appendices and index.

A detailed, dedicated and enjoyable remembrance.

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2011

ISBN: 978-1438972527

Page Count: 225

Publisher: AuthorHouse

Review Posted Online: Dec. 23, 2011

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The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

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Four men who meet as college roommates move to New York and spend the next three decades gaining renown in their professions—as an architect, painter, actor and lawyer—and struggling with demons in their intertwined personal lives.

Yanagihara (The People in the Trees, 2013) takes the still-bold leap of writing about characters who don’t share her background; in addition to being male, JB is African-American, Malcolm has a black father and white mother, Willem is white, and “Jude’s race was undetermined”—deserted at birth, he was raised in a monastery and had an unspeakably traumatic childhood that’s revealed slowly over the course of the book. Two of them are gay, one straight and one bisexual. There isn’t a single significant female character, and for a long novel, there isn’t much plot. There aren’t even many markers of what’s happening in the outside world; Jude moves to a loft in SoHo as a young man, but we don’t see the neighborhood change from gritty artists’ enclave to glitzy tourist destination. What we get instead is an intensely interior look at the friends’ psyches and relationships, and it’s utterly enthralling. The four men think about work and creativity and success and failure; they cook for each other, compete with each other and jostle for each other’s affection. JB bases his entire artistic career on painting portraits of his friends, while Malcolm takes care of them by designing their apartments and houses. When Jude, as an adult, is adopted by his favorite Harvard law professor, his friends join him for Thanksgiving in Cambridge every year. And when Willem becomes a movie star, they all bask in his glow. Eventually, the tone darkens and the story narrows to focus on Jude as the pain of his past cuts deep into his carefully constructed life.  

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-53925-8

Page Count: 720

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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While a few weeks ago it seemed as if Praeger would have a two month lead over Dutton in their presentation of this Soviet best seller, both the "authorized" edition (Dutton's) and the "unauthorized" (Praeger's) will appear almost simultaneously. There has been considerable advance attention on what appears to be as much of a publishing cause celebre here as the original appearance of the book in Russia. Without entering into the scrimmage, or dismissing it as a plague on both your houses, we will limit ourselves to a few facts. Royalties from the "unauthorized" edition will go to the International Rescue Committee; Dutton with their contracted edition is adhering to copyright conventions. The Praeger edition has two translators and one of them is the translator of Doctor Zhivago Dutton's translator, Ralph Parker, has been stigmatized by Praeger as "an apologist for the Soviet regime". To the untutored eye, the Dutton translation seems a little more literary, the Praeger perhaps closer to the rather primitive style of the original. The book itself is an account of one day in the three thousand six hundred and fifty three days of the sentence to be served by a carpenter, Ivan Denisovich Shukhov. (Solzhenitsyn was a political prisoner.) From the unrelenting cold without, to the conditions within, from the bathhouse to the latrine to the cells where survival for more than two weeks is impossible, this records the hopeless facts of existence as faced by thousands who went on "living like this, with your eyes on the ground". The Dutton edition has an excellent introduction providing an orientation on the political background to its appearance in Russia by Marvin Kalb. All involved in its publication (translators, introducers, etc.) claim for it great "artistic" values which we cannot share, although there is no question of its importance as a political and human document and as significant and tangible evidence of the de-Stalinization program.

Pub Date: June 15, 1963

ISBN: 0451228146

Page Count: 181

Publisher: Praeger

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1963

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