Terrifically banal, despite the unusual setting.

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MR. DING’S CHICKEN FEET

ON A SLOW BOAT FROM SHANGHAI TO TEXAS

Myopic memoir about a few months on a ship.

Kendall, a broke grad student, was thrilled when she landed a high-paying summer job teaching English to Chinese men sailing to Texas to work for an oil company. She describes her lovable students, recounts their amusing though predictable gaffes (there was some confusion about the words “penis” and “peanuts”) and explains how she fended off boredom with exercise and the occasional Garrison Keillor tape. Onboard, Kendall had much time to reassess her life. She was contemplating leaving Houston and enrolling in a different graduate program, in Iowa. She was also reassessing her relationship with Martin, the stateside boyfriend she spoke with once a week via satellite phone. Kendall looked forward to these five-minute conversations, but wondered: Did she want Martin to come with her to Iowa? Why didn’t she fantasize about weddings and marriage, as most of her friends seemed to? Why did she instead sometimes daydream about women? Near the end of her trip, when Martin announced his decision to accompany her to the Hawkeye state, Kendall felt a despair she couldn’t explain. Though the author drops hints about past flings with women, and dissatisfaction with her love life is a theme from the start, the story simply ends with Martin picking up Kendall at port. The technical shortcomings here are as evident as the thematic ones. Images, metaphors and analogies are trite (a bad premonition feels like “a brick had been thrown into my stomach”), and the prose is lackluster. Ultimately, the author fails to situate her summer adventures within the larger framework of China’s opening up its economy and the mixed benefits of globalization.

Terrifically banal, despite the unusual setting.

Pub Date: Oct. 3, 2006

ISBN: 0-299-21944-5

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Terrace Books/Univ. of Wisconsin Press

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2006

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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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