THE WORLD IS MY HOME by James A. Michener


A Memoir
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Altogether engaging if decidedly selective reminiscence from the peripatetic writer (not "author," he stresses) who's one of the world's most successful storytellers. Eschewing traditional autobiography, Michener (who turns 85 next year) looks back on his long, globe-trotting life from more than a dozen vantage points--travel, people, politics, health, wealth, etc. This idiosyncratic format permits him to comment at length on topics of his choosing and to avoid subjects he finds painful or none of a reader's business. Beyond a brief allusion, for example, there's no mention of two matrimonial failures, and little about his enduring marriage to a nisei named Mariko. He does, however, offer intriguing glimpses of his impoverished boyhood in a foster home and the steely resolve that won him scholarships and honors at Swarthmore and graduate schools. Meanwhile, Michener spins a wealth of marvelous yams about his years as a teacher, editor (at Macmillan), WW II naval officer, omnivorous reader, itinerant lecturer, occasional show-biz advisor, and, more recently, member of government commissions. Among many other recitals, his rueful accounts of how the Post Office chooses the subjects of its postage stamps and of the travails of an unreconstructed liberal running for elective office in Bucks County, Pa.--a bastion of rock-ribbed Republicanism--stand out. The author also recalls highs and lows of a writing career that (to the dismay of many critics) saw him win a Pulitzer Prize for his first book (Tales from the South Pacific, 1947) and make frequent appearances on bestseller lists for decades thereafter. While not one to underrate his craft or accomplishments, Michener refuses to employ royalty statements to dispute the typically damning judgments of the literary establishment. Indeed, he seems content to let the reading public have the final word on his work. The guess here is that fans and foes alike will find the discontinuous, digressive, and quite delightful narrative at hand as much to their separate tastes as ever.

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 1992
ISBN: 0812978137
Page count: 512pp
Publisher: Random House
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15th, 1991


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