A learned and earnest but ultimately quixotic attempt to convince us that a stagecoach is better for us than a bullet train.


Mikics (English/Univ. of Houston) argues that you can’t truly enjoy literature unless you slow way down and read…well, the way he does.

Throughout the book—an odd combination of literary exegeses and self-help suggestions—Mikics sprinkles complaints about the digital age and its current manifestations (Facebook, Twitter et al.) and asserts that they destroy our attention spans (is the increase of ADD related, he wonders?) and keep us on the surface of experience. His solution? Reading old books very slowly with an open dictionary alongside. Virtually all the authors he examines are dead (two are alive but “retired”: Philip Roth and Alice Munro), so whiffs of antiquarianism waft up from most of the pages. Not that his arguments are unappealing. Of course we would all be better off if we read the classics and read them slowly; however, it just doesn’t seem that likely to happen. Mikics declares that he’s not advocating the “close reading” techniques described by Cleanth Brooks and Robert Penn Warren, but rather a more leisurely journey through significant works of literature—a journey which, he soundly argues, is enhanced by a knowledge of the author’s biography and the cultural and historical contexts of the work. He then offers rules for readers, devoting a chapter to each—e.g., Be Patient, Get a Sense of Style, Use the Dictionary, Be Suspicious, Find Another Book. For each rule, Mikics offers ways to apply it to specific works. He ends with chapters on how to read various genres—with more analyses of specific works ranging from The Republic to Paradise Lost to Great Expectations.

A learned and earnest but ultimately quixotic attempt to convince us that a stagecoach is better for us than a bullet train.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-674-72472-3

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Belknap/Harvard Univ.

Review Posted Online: July 21, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2013

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?


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

Did you like this book?