TOSSING AND TURNING

Industrious novelist John Updike has rounded up another collection of verse, and lo! in this medium he grows serious even while his novels turn into "entertainments." (He has a poem about this: "The Jolly Greene Giant.") Some themes recur: things spat out (mouse-bones from owls, delicately, in "Dream and Reality"; Harvard College and its graduates, amusingly, in the Phi Beta Kappa Poem for 1973), the relation of cog to chain, and, always, insomnia. Updike has two voices in verse: flat, prosy, non-metaphoric—and bouncy, jingly, syllabic. Part I of Tossing and Turning is grave and unadorned, what critics of 16th-century poetry call "drab." Some of this reaches back to the Olinger days, as in "Leaving Church Early": "how busy we were forgiving—/ we had no time, of course, we have no time/ to do all the forgiving that we must do." In Part II, Updike resumes the lighthearted voice he used so well in The Carpentered Hen, Telephone Poles, and Midpoint, but self-pity slips in. "Authors' Residences: After Visiting Hartford," compares his own modest accommodations to the grander houses of Mark Twain and Wallace Stevens. "Writers, know your place/before it grows too modest to be known" . . . . One wonders, still, on what principle poets divide their volumes; what distinguishes Updike's Part III? It contains some of the book's best poems (and the sexiest) but some light verse too. Perhaps they are the ones the author likes best. Each reader will make his own choice.

Pub Date: May 1, 1977

ISBN: 0233969438

Page Count: 90

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Oct. 6, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1977

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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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