Essential truths in the rare and generous voice of a maestro.

I'M NOT HERE TO GIVE A SPEECH

A set of speeches given over the course of his long literary career offers snapshots of the Colombian author’s uniquely eloquent humanitarian voice and vision.

García Márquez (1927-2014), the author of such classics as One Hundred Years of Solitude and Love in the Time of Cholera and winner of the 1982 Nobel Prize for Literature, was a passionate advocate for his Latin American culture and identity. In his Nobel speech, “The Solitude of Latin American,” he expresses his heartfelt hope that the Swedish Academy was ultimately recognizing through his work the underappreciated richness of the Latin American imagination, “because the greatest challenge for us has been the insufficiency of conventional devices to make our lives believable.” His idealistic vision of cultural rapprochement shines through many of these speeches, as he offers a plea for the convergence of sciences and arts (“for the questioning of both is the same over the same abyss”) and the significant role of the intellectual in society. Throughout his life, García Márquez was a fierce activist for social change. In “The Cataclysm of Damocles” (1986), he laments that in the nuclear age, the only reason we have not annihilated ourselves in a cosmic disaster is that “the preservation of human life on Earth continues to be cheaper than the nuclear plague. In “The Beloved Though Distant Homeland” (2003), delivered in Medellin, he rues Colombia’s devastating proliferation of narco-violence. Friendship forms the theme of two of the most affecting speeches, in which he celebrates the work of Álvaro Mutis (1993) and Julio Cortázar. Elsewhere, García Márquez reveals his deep roots in poetry and journalism. Regarding the latter, during a 1996 speech in Los Angeles, he presciently noted that the discipline was dangerously veering into a terrain of "innocent or deliberate mistakes, vicious manipulations, and venomous misrepresentations that give the news article the dimensions of a deadly weapon.”

Essential truths in the rare and generous voice of a maestro.

Pub Date: Jan. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-101-91118-1

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Vintage

Review Posted Online: Oct. 14, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2018

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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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Necessarily swift and adumbrative as well as inclusive, focused, and graceful.

A LITTLE HISTORY OF POETRY

A light-speed tour of (mostly) Western poetry, from the 4,000-year-old Gilgamesh to the work of Australian poet Les Murray, who died in 2019.

In the latest entry in the publisher’s Little Histories series, Carey, an emeritus professor at Oxford whose books include What Good Are the Arts? and The Unexpected Professor: An Oxford Life in Books, offers a quick definition of poetry—“relates to language as music relates to noise. It is language made special”—before diving in to poetry’s vast history. In most chapters, the author deals with only a few writers, but as the narrative progresses, he finds himself forced to deal with far more than a handful. In his chapter on 20th-century political poets, for example, he talks about 14 writers in seven pages. Carey displays a determination to inform us about who the best poets were—and what their best poems were. The word “greatest” appears continually; Chaucer was “the greatest medieval English poet,” and Langston Hughes was “the greatest male poet” of the Harlem Renaissance. For readers who need a refresher—or suggestions for the nightstand—Carey provides the best-known names and the most celebrated poems, including Paradise Lost (about which the author has written extensively), “Kubla Khan,” “Ozymandias,” “The Charge of the Light Brigade,” Wordsworth and Coleridge’s Lyrical Ballads, which “changed the course of English poetry.” Carey explains some poetic technique (Hopkins’ “sprung rhythm”) and pauses occasionally to provide autobiographical tidbits—e.g., John Masefield, who wrote the famous “Sea Fever,” “hated the sea.” We learn, as well, about the sexuality of some poets (Auden was bisexual), and, especially later on, Carey discusses the demons that drove some of them, Robert Lowell and Sylvia Plath among them. Refreshingly, he includes many women in the volume—all the way back to Sappho—and has especially kind words for Marianne Moore and Elizabeth Bishop, who share a chapter.

Necessarily swift and adumbrative as well as inclusive, focused, and graceful.

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-300-23222-6

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Yale Univ.

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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