MUNICIPAL BONDAGE

ONE MAN'S ANXIETY-PRODUCING ADVENTURES IN THE BIG CITY

The journalistic equivalent of a performance artist, Alford dreams up antic minidramas in which he can play at least a supporting role, stages them, and then reviews the results. On the evidence of the compilation at hand, the Manhattan-based freelancer (Mademoiselle, Spy, Vanity Fair, etc.) will do almost anything for a quiet laugh. Here, for example, he reports on close encounters with a clutter consultant, nude housecleaners (one man, one woman—at different times), modeling agencies, and the staff at upscale auction houses to which he had consigned bogus heirlooms. Included as well are droll accounts of the author's unavailing attempts to secure part-time employment at Macy's and to pass a dog-grooming test (with an uncooperative cocker spaniel in tow), plus his four- day stint as a volunteer chauffeur for the governor of Colorado during the 1992 Democratic convention in N.Y.C. If Alford occasionally misses the mark—with, say, nominal exposÇs of a profit-making enterprise ostensibly devoted to advancing the laggard cause of poetry or a Caribbean resort catering to licentious singles—his offbeat consumer guides are dead-on. Along the way, he rates the Big Apple's bed-and-breakfast accommodations, self-improvement videos, and the trendy experience of eating in the Plaza Hotel's kitchen in preference to its dining room. Among the set-piece essays is a series of bizarre interrogatories that address apocryphal issues (e.g., ``What If the Brontâ Sisters Had Been a Heavy-Metal Band?'') and offer a wealth of possible consequences (``1848 [they] lock manager, Mrs. Rochester, in attic''). These one-liner sideshows are an acquired taste, but at his best—which can be good indeed—Alford offers genuinely rueful takes on comic aspects of the urban experience.

Pub Date: March 1, 1994

ISBN: 0-679-41509-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1994

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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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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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