STARRY, STARRY NIGHT

PROVINCETOWN'S RESPONSE TO THE AIDS EPIDEMIC

Like panels in the famous AIDS quilt, but restricted in scope to one small town, these interviews with residents of Provincetown, Mass., tell yet more stories of those afflicted by HIV. Braham, a writer, and Peterson, a psychologist, conducted the interviews over the course of five separate visits they made to Provincetown in 1996. Those interviewed include local nurses, counselors, clergy, social-service administrators, and volunteers. Among the mix of men and women interviewed, many are HIV-positive. What distinguishes this social-psychological account of AIDS from others are the particular features of Provincetown: its small size (permanent population of 3,300), large percentage of gay and lesbian residents, and stunning geography. The authors set the personal interviews with the HIV-infected and their caretakers against the backdrop of the town’s natural land- and seascapes, which alternately both alarm and calm the human spirit. Indicated, but not elaborated, are conflicts between different segments of the HIV-affected community over philosophies and politics of health care, and between recently arrived, relatively affluent gay men and older, often poorer residents. Though every story of battering by AIDS merits telling, the authors’ claims for the “extraordinary . . . communal response to the crisis” of AIDS in Provincetown, and the “astonishing degree of trust” they, as interviewers, received, will strike seasoned AIDS workers as grandiose. In the inverse universe of AIDS, the astonishing and extraordinary come to set the norm, whether for good or ill. In light of that, the authors’ tone could be less self-congratulatory, and the reaching for weighty metaphors less labored. Must a beach setting for cremation ceremonies be described as “gilded with ashes,” or a star-lit night as “the skin of solitude”? AIDS weighs enough already—please, dear authors, lighten up! The heavy-handed touch of the writing notwithstanding, this book does its part to meet the persisting need for both memorials and tributes to all affected by HIV.

Pub Date: April 1, 1998

ISBN: 1-57129-058-3

Page Count: 224

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 1998

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NUTCRACKER

This is not the Nutcracker sweet, as passed on by Tchaikovsky and Marius Petipa. No, this is the original Hoffmann tale of 1816, in which the froth of Christmas revelry occasionally parts to let the dark underside of childhood fantasies and fears peek through. The boundaries between dream and reality fade, just as Godfather Drosselmeier, the Nutcracker's creator, is seen as alternately sinister and jolly. And Italian artist Roberto Innocenti gives an errily realistic air to Marie's dreams, in richly detailed illustrations touched by a mysterious light. A beautiful version of this classic tale, which will captivate adults and children alike. (Nutcracker; $35.00; Oct. 28, 1996; 136 pp.; 0-15-100227-4)

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 1996

ISBN: 0-15-100227-4

Page Count: 136

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1996

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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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