CRUX

THE LETTERS OF JAMES DICKEY

Indefatigable literary estate agent Bruccoli (English/Univ. South Carolina, editor of the letters of F. Scott Fitzgerald, John O’Hara, and Vladimir Nabokov) amasses the documentary chronicle of Dickey’s metamorphosis from “scarcely educated jock” to award-winning poet. Despite the wide range of addressees, including Robert Bly, Philip Booth, Donald Hall, Richard Howard, Randall Jarrell, Denise Levertov, and Robert Penn Warren, Dickey is on truly intimate terms—whether aesthetic or personal—with very few. Concerning his art, his most revealing personal statements typically occur in early correspondence with fellow-poet James Wright in the late fifties and the sixties: how Dickey is out to make “a poetry that gives us life: . . . the live imagination as it leaps instinctively toward its inevitable (and perhaps God-ordained) forms”; why he writes about a few significant personal experiences (usually concerning his family) “in order to understand these times and states, and to perpetuate them.” Elsewhere, he relates to Wright vivid descriptions of a brawling debate with Jarrell and a winter deer hunt with friends and his son Christopher, during which Dickey improvised ballads. Unfortunately, in his later (post-Deliverance) letters, his grand-old-man status affords him too many opportunities for self-regarding pronouncements, such as judging fellow Southern writers and young poets. The quotidian aspects of a poetic career—and Bruccoli bluntly describes Dickey as a careerist—are well-documented, from Dickey’s popular speaking engagements and academic postings, through mundane dealings with magazines and publishers, to putting down rivals and sucking up to critics. (In one of the more amusing two-faced incidents, Dickey calls John Hollander “a literary pimp and time-server” but later sympathizes with Hollander about “nit-pickers who balk at your poems.—) For the appetite for life that drives Dickey’s poetry, his letters to his son Christopher, though comparatively few here, are best. In disagreement with Auden, Dickey writes, “Poetry makes plenty happen; it can change your life,” as this passionate and ornery epistolary collection proves.

Pub Date: Nov. 14, 1999

ISBN: 0-375-40419-8

Page Count: 576

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 1999

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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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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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