MORE MATTER

ESSAYS AND CRITICISM

A strong gathering of essays, criticism, addresses, introductions, and autobiographical commentaries written and published over the past eight years. “Writing criticism,” Updike explains in an earlier collection of essays and occaisonal pieces, “is to writing fiction and poetry as hugging the shore is to sailing in the open sea.” And so it may be, but plying the estuaries of art and literature in the Updike dinghy remains a pleasure of considerable magnitude. The new book takes its title from Queen Gertrude’s admonition to Polonius: “More matter, with less art.” Luckily, Updike doesn—t stint on matter or art. Like its predecessor volumes, More Matter draws its appeal from Updike’s shrewd judgment and unique verbal sparkle, but also from his cosmopolitan range. He moves easily from Kierkegaard to Lincoln and Melville; from Edmond Wilson to Camille Paglia or Joseph Brodsky or Junichiro Tanizaki. The list could go on for quite some time; this book is nearly 1,000 pages long. The abiding Updike themes of sex and religion and the manifold perplexities of American life are in abundant evidence, but a new one appears alongside them: it is old age. Updike is now 67 and has during the 1990s begun to ruminate about what it means to be old and how the US has changed during his lifetime. He touches on it frequently, as in an essay on the liberating suntan culture of the 1950s and “60s: “The young married beauties with whom my then wife and I spent great chunks of summer sunning on a broad beach north of Boston have in the subsequent decades gone from being nut-brown Pocahontases to looking like Sitting Bull, with a melancholy facial fissure for every broken treaty.” The key word here is “melancholy,” for it is the mood that stimulates a good many of Updike’s insights throughout this superior collection. Updike declares in his preface that More Matter will be his last book of collected criticism. Let us hope he changes his mind.

Pub Date: Sept. 28, 1999

ISBN: 0-375-40630-1

Page Count: 928

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 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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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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