Not altogether Wallace’s finest work, but it brings some welcome exposure to some of his best pieces.



Previously uncollected essays and reportage by the late author, reflecting his varied interests, from tennis to Borges to higher math.

This collection is arranged not in terms of chronology but notoriety: It’s front-loaded with three pieces that Wallace fans have long wished to see in book form. “Federer Both Flesh and Not” is a bracing critical study of tennis star Roger Federer at Wimbledon in 2006; though Wallace spent face time with the star, quotes are tucked into the author's trademark footnotes, and he writes mainly as a spectator admiring the power of the human body to perform at extraordinary levels. “Fictional Futures and the Conspicuously Young” is a potent 1988 essay on the roots of what he felt was largely threadbare minimalist fiction. “The Empty Plenum,” an encomium to David Markson’s 1988 novel Wittgenstein’s Mistress, explores the philosophical machinery behind the book and serves as a careful defense of avant-garde fiction. The remainder of the collection is weaker, composed of book reviews and brief essays on politics, sex and the writing life that feel less impassioned than commissioned. A report on the 1995 U.S. Open is a shallower version of Wallace’s infamous cruise-ship article, and a 2001 essay on prose poems fractures the traditional essay form into bullet points to little effect. The best overlooked work here is a set of usage notes contributed to the Oxford American Writer’s Thesaurus: Wallace has a blast riffing on the fine points of “pulchritude,” “unique,” “hairy” and other words. To stress his status as a lifelong word maven, the pages between pieces are filled with words and definitions from Wallace’s personal vocabulary list, from “croker sack” to “pyknic.”

Not altogether Wallace’s finest work, but it brings some welcome exposure to some of his best pieces.

Pub Date: Nov. 27, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-316-18237-9

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Aug. 29, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2012

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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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