Though the World Trade Center makes only a cameo appearance here, Sanders’s valentine to New York provides a tonic reminder...

CELLULOID SKYLINE

NEW YORK AND THE MOVIES

Architect Sanders, who collaborated with documentarist Ric Burns on New York: An Illustrated History (not reviewed), goes solo with this opulent tribute to Hollywood’s Big Apple.

New York, he notes, has always been incontestably “the city for Hollywood.” Yet although film production began in Astoria and Menlo Park at the turn of the last century, it was not until the 1930s, when the talkies drew Gotham writers by the score to a California diaspora, that the absent city began to assume the glamorously mythic proportions that have alternated ever since with demythologizing reports from its lower depths as location shooting has periodically returned (following the 1948 success of The Naked City) and receded (in the wake of a 1990 studio boycott of union rules and pay scales). Sanders’s true subject, in fact, is the dialectic of realism and fantasy in the creation of Hollywood’s New York. Leaping as agilely as King Kong from Metropolis to Dead End, from Holiday to Smoke, from Rear Window (“the most sophisticated and complex exploration of the movie city”) to On the Waterfront (“the most ambitious attempt ever to orchestrate the elements of an urban locale into a unified filmic setting”), and among the four filmmakers most closely associated with New York—Sidney Lumet, Woody Allen, Martin Scorsese, and Spike Lee—he observes that identifiable landmarks play a less important role in New York movies than public spaces like streets and plazas, traces the alienating influence of the International Style on The Apartment, and examines the decline of civic order in such urban-jungle thrillers as Fort Apache, the Bronx. Most readers, however, dazzled by the interspersed 330 photos, will be hard-pressed to keep their eyes on the text.

Though the World Trade Center makes only a cameo appearance here, Sanders’s valentine to New York provides a tonic reminder of the power of its mythic images to outlast their own roots in reality.

Pub Date: Nov. 27, 2001

ISBN: 0-394-57062-6

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2001

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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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Necessarily swift and adumbrative as well as inclusive, focused, and graceful.

A LITTLE HISTORY OF POETRY

A light-speed tour of (mostly) Western poetry, from the 4,000-year-old Gilgamesh to the work of Australian poet Les Murray, who died in 2019.

In the latest entry in the publisher’s Little Histories series, Carey, an emeritus professor at Oxford whose books include What Good Are the Arts? and The Unexpected Professor: An Oxford Life in Books, offers a quick definition of poetry—“relates to language as music relates to noise. It is language made special”—before diving in to poetry’s vast history. In most chapters, the author deals with only a few writers, but as the narrative progresses, he finds himself forced to deal with far more than a handful. In his chapter on 20th-century political poets, for example, he talks about 14 writers in seven pages. Carey displays a determination to inform us about who the best poets were—and what their best poems were. The word “greatest” appears continually; Chaucer was “the greatest medieval English poet,” and Langston Hughes was “the greatest male poet” of the Harlem Renaissance. For readers who need a refresher—or suggestions for the nightstand—Carey provides the best-known names and the most celebrated poems, including Paradise Lost (about which the author has written extensively), “Kubla Khan,” “Ozymandias,” “The Charge of the Light Brigade,” Wordsworth and Coleridge’s Lyrical Ballads, which “changed the course of English poetry.” Carey explains some poetic technique (Hopkins’ “sprung rhythm”) and pauses occasionally to provide autobiographical tidbits—e.g., John Masefield, who wrote the famous “Sea Fever,” “hated the sea.” We learn, as well, about the sexuality of some poets (Auden was bisexual), and, especially later on, Carey discusses the demons that drove some of them, Robert Lowell and Sylvia Plath among them. Refreshingly, he includes many women in the volume—all the way back to Sappho—and has especially kind words for Marianne Moore and Elizabeth Bishop, who share a chapter.

Necessarily swift and adumbrative as well as inclusive, focused, and graceful.

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-300-23222-6

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Yale Univ.

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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