CHIAROSCURO

ESSAYS OF IDENTITY

Novelist Barolini (Umbertina, 1979, etc.) provides an uneven collection of essays that wander in that unclear terrain which links the search for her Italian cultural origins with her essentially American upbringing. Her drive toward artistic expression is informed by her search for a voice and its true territory. The author misses the powerful inspiration that exists in feeling ostracized by ethnicity. She feels a burdensome need to punish the publishing and academic worlds for not having heralded an Italian-American literary tradition, but her argument fails. She quotes widely from a rich tradition of American writers on the importance of being a voice from the outside, but she doesn't hear herself when she cites Garc°a M†rquez: ``The revolutionary duty [of a writer] if you like, is simply to write well.'' Only rarely does Barolini let her own creativity fly. She shows us what she can do in chapters on her earliest intimations of a writerly self; her adult experiences in Rome, where the American and the Italian in her finally meet (this latter was only acquired in adulthood, while living and raising children there); and a loose charting of the wonders of language, in which she maintains her ``belief . . . that any writer from a marginalized position is writing in the most American of traditions—that of the Outsider.'' At last. Too often, she cannot override her need to state and restate the business of being a woman, an Italian woman, and an Italian woman writer. She is at her best when she writes the way memory feels, as when she links her home on James Street in a small upstate New York town with her thoughts about Henry James, or when she cringes at remembering her first encounter with John Cheever through a screen door in her home in Croton, N.Y. She writes richly about her Catholic upbringing, letting us know that she is determined to be heard. If only she could focus on the life at hand—and leave literary proselytizing to commentators.

Pub Date: July 1, 1997

ISBN: 1-884419-11-9

Page Count: 170

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1997

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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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