Donne would be pleased with this intelligent, affectionate, articulate telling of his story.

JOHN DONNE

THE REFORMED SOUL

A major biography of the poet and preacher, who knew Shakespeare, accommodated himself to three difficult monarchs and left behind a significant literary legacy.

In his impressive debut, Stubbs moves with ease through the complex life of a man who lived in a time of profound religious, political and cultural upheaval. Because John Donne (1572–1631) was such a public person for much of his life—a poet, a bureaucrat, the Dean of St. Paul’s—and because a number of his regular correspondents kept his letters, his biographer has much documentary evidence to support this account. Born into a Catholic family, Donne learned to adapt his views and behavior to the prevailing political and religious mood. He also, Stubbs ably demonstrates, retained his humanity and moral integrity. He left home early for Oxford but received no degree because he could not sign the religious Oath of Allegiance. (Later, James I made certain that Cambridge awarded Donne a doctorate.) He lived and studied law at Lincoln’s Inn, sailed with Essex and Ralegh, earned a powerful position as secretary to Sir Thomas Egerton, spent some time in the House of Commons. But he nearly lost it all in 1601 when he secretly married teenaged Ann More, enraging her family and annoying Queen Elizabeth. Ann subsequently gave birth to a dozen children and died shortly after delivering a stillbirth in August 1617. (Stubbs is not always so specific about dates; a chronology would have improved the book.) By then, Donne had turned his back on the secular world. Noted as a bachelor for his popular satires and sexy poems, he was chastened by poverty and the struggle to support his family; some powerful friends and James’s royal caprices persuaded him to take religious vows early in 1615. He became one of England’s most influential preachers—in his lifetime and beyond.

Donne would be pleased with this intelligent, affectionate, articulate telling of his story.

Pub Date: April 1, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-393-06260-1

Page Count: 576

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2007

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A standout immigrant coming-of-age story.

THE DISTANCE BETWEEN US

A MEMOIR

In her first nonfiction book, novelist Grande (Dancing with Butterflies, 2009, etc.) delves into her family’s cycle of separation and reunification.

Raised in poverty so severe that spaghetti reminded her of the tapeworms endemic to children in her Mexican hometown, the author is her family’s only college graduate and writer, whose honors include an American Book Award and International Latino Book Award. Though she was too young to remember her father when he entered the United States illegally seeking money to improve life for his family, she idolized him from afar. However, she also blamed him for taking away her mother after he sent for her when the author was not yet 5 years old. Though she emulated her sister, she ultimately answered to herself, and both siblings constantly sought affirmation of their parents’ love, whether they were present or not. When one caused disappointment, the siblings focused their hopes on the other. These contradictions prove to be the narrator’s hallmarks, as she consistently displays a fierce willingness to ask tough questions, accept startling answers, and candidly render emotional and physical violence. Even as a girl, Grande understood the redemptive power of language to define—in the U.S., her name’s literal translation, “big queen,” led to ridicule from other children—and to complicate. In spelling class, when a teacher used the sentence “my mamá loves me” (mi mamá me ama), Grande decided to “rearrange the words so that they formed a question: ¿Me ama mi mamá? Does my mama love me?”

A standout immigrant coming-of-age story.

Pub Date: Aug. 28, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4516-6177-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: June 12, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2012

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Buffs of the Old West will enjoy Clavin’s careful research and vivid writing.

TOMBSTONE

THE EARP BROTHERS, DOC HOLLIDAY, AND THE VENDETTA RIDE FROM HELL

Rootin’-tootin’ history of the dry-gulchers, horn-swogglers, and outright killers who populated the Wild West’s wildest city in the late 19th century.

The stories of Wyatt Earp and company, the shootout at the O.K. Corral, and Geronimo and the Apache Wars are all well known. Clavin, who has written books on Dodge City and Wild Bill Hickok, delivers a solid narrative that usefully links significant events—making allies of white enemies, for instance, in facing down the Apache threat, rustling from Mexico, and other ethnically charged circumstances. The author is a touch revisionist, in the modern fashion, in noting that the Earps and Clantons weren’t as bloodthirsty as popular culture has made them out to be. For example, Wyatt and Bat Masterson “took the ‘peace’ in peace officer literally and knew that the way to tame the notorious town was not to outkill the bad guys but to intimidate them, sometimes with the help of a gun barrel to the skull.” Indeed, while some of the Clantons and some of the Earps died violently, most—Wyatt, Bat, Doc Holliday—died of cancer and other ailments, if only a few of old age. Clavin complicates the story by reminding readers that the Earps weren’t really the law in Tombstone and sometimes fell on the other side of the line and that the ordinary citizens of Tombstone and other famed Western venues valued order and peace and weren’t particularly keen on gunfighters and their mischief. Still, updating the old notion that the Earp myth is the American Iliad, the author is at his best when he delineates those fraught spasms of violence. “It is never a good sign for law-abiding citizens,” he writes at one high point, “to see Johnny Ringo rush into town, both him and his horse all in a lather.” Indeed not, even if Ringo wound up killing himself and law-abiding Tombstone faded into obscurity when the silver played out.

Buffs of the Old West will enjoy Clavin’s careful research and vivid writing.

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-21458-4

Page Count: 400

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Jan. 20, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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