Jagged pieces of a mirror that reveal a quirky, informed and immensely curious character.

OCCASIONAL DESIRE

ESSAYS

Essayist Lazar (Creative Writing and English/Columbia Coll., Chicago; The Body of Brooklyn, 2003, etc.) returns with a collection of ruminations ranging from the quotidian to the querulous, from the evanescent to the enduring.

The essays are full of odd information—e.g., James Agee and Robert Lowell died in taxis; M.F.K. Fisher had “immense eyes.” Lazar also leaps easily from popular to high culture. Yoda appears here, as do Elizabeth Taylor and Lou Costello, sometimes in the same essay with Philip Larkin, Flannery O’Connor or Francis Bacon. His diction varies widely, as well (often in the same piece). In one essay, Lazar starts a sentence with, “There is an Epictetian balance…”; he ends another—a moving and troubling piece about death—with this: “Death is a motherfucker.” Another characteristic of his style: quotations. One essay (on the self-portraits of Bacon) ends with about four pages of them, Bacon’s words at first alternating with those of Beckett, Pascal, Nietzsche, then taking over with five consecutive aphorisms. Lazar’s essays are traditional only in the sense that they use words and that they generally focus on a principal theme—though he is quick to digress when the mood strikes, which it often, and delightfully does so. He can be funny and self-deprecating (his essay about online dating), can craft wonderful sentences of about any length (there is a weirdly endless one in the dating essay), and can drop into his paragraphs epigrams worthy of Emerson. Oddly, when writing about the essay itself, he can be a bit dogmatic, insisting that his definition of the genre is the only worthy one.

Jagged pieces of a mirror that reveal a quirky, informed and immensely curious character.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-8032-4638-6

Page Count: 232

Publisher: Univ. of Nebraska

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2013

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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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MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. AND THE MARCH ON WASHINGTON

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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