THE MONSTER SHOW

A CULTURAL HISTORY OF HORROR

Frightfully well-done survey of modern horror, eclipsing Stephen King's seminal Danse Macabre (1981) for clarity of writing, if not personableness or depth of idea, and Walter Kendrick's The Thrill of Fear (1991) for cultural savvy. Where Kendrick found horror literature, film, etc., to be primarily a way of coping with fear of death, Skal (Hollywood Gothic, 1991, etc.) stands with King in discerning within the genre responses to myriad contemporary social ills, from economic stagnation to AIDS. Skal opens with a striking symbol of the symbiosis of horror and societal unease: Diane Arbus, photographer of outcasts and misfits, sitting in a darkened Manhattan theater in 1961 watching a rare screening of Tod Browning's notorious horror masterpiece, Freaks. A rundown of Browning's life and of the nearly parallel career of Bram Stoker's Dracula and its many offshoots follows (some of the Dracula material is cribbed from Hollywood Gothic), culminating in the watershed year 1931, when Dracula, Frankenstein, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and Freaks burst onto the screen, defining American horror (like King and unlike Kendrick, Skal avoids extensive discussion of premodern horror). While Skal's text is intensely (sometimes forcibly) idea-driven (he finds the 1931 films, for instance, revolving ``around fantasies of `alternative' forms of reproduction,'' responses to the ``dust bowl sterility and economic emasculation'' of the time), he never forgets that horror is foremost a mass entertainment, and he enlivens his narrative with a wealth of enjoyable anecdote and fact (e.g., that Bela Lugosi, who spoke almost no English, learned his lines phonetically) as he covers every aspect of contemporary horror—from EC comic books, Aurora plastic models, and Stephen King to oddball TV horror hosts and the impact of latex makeup. Skal's love and respect for the genre shine through this impeccably researched, lively chronicle: a top-drawer choice for horror fans. (One hundred illustrations—not seen.)

Pub Date: March 22, 1993

ISBN: 0-393-03419-4

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1993

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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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