A tangled travelogue that lacks much of a thesis beyond the unstated one that the world is a strange place. Too long by a...

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STRANGE TELESCOPES

FOLLOWING THE APOCALYPSE FROM MOSCOW TO SIBERIA

Scottish writer Kalder (Lost Cosmonaut: Observations of an Anti-Tourist, 2006, etc.) offers tales of weird, occult doings in the land of Rasputin.

Unless you’re a longtime reader of Outside—in which Erin Arvedlund did a more economical job of telling the same story—you might not know that the sewers of Moscow, Russia, are home to an odd tribe of postmodern bohemian intellectuals who, tired of the impossibility of utopias aboveground, are trying their hands at creating a paradise below. Some of the subterraneans are more normal than others, relatively speaking, but it’s no easy matter to distinguish those who have lost their marbles and claim to work directly for Vladimir Putin via secret telephone from those who truly do work for Putin via secret telephone (“That connects me directly to the Ministry of Emergency Situations!”). Whatever their motivations and connections, the Diggers, as they’re known, have made a wondrous city beneath the city, a world into which Kalder guides readers. Meanwhile, aboveground, he writes, psychics and clergy are doing a land-office business conducting exorcisms “with the same frequency that plumbers patched up the pipes in the crumbling tower blocks of the former Soviet Union.” One such exorcist divides his time between the underground and the surface world, and Kalder accompanies him on his chases after Satan, “catastrophe surfing” in the quieter corners of the erstwhile Evil Empire. In Siberia, a former traffic cop has concocted a millenarian sci-fi cult that makes cousins such as Scientology look rational. According to them, God is “a light that doesn’t burn, which is cold and white and tender and gentle.” Naturally enough, subterraneans and exorcists figure in it.

A tangled travelogue that lacks much of a thesis beyond the unstated one that the world is a strange place. Too long by a quarter, the narrative frequently drags but is often a hoot to read.

Pub Date: May 1, 2009

ISBN: 978-1-59020-226-5

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Overlook

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2009

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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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