HOMAGE TO ROBERT FROST

A laurel wreath for Frost hoisted by several Nobel laureates whose own poetry is published regularly by Farrar, Straus & Giroux. That said, the pickings are mostly good. Brodsky, Heaney, and Walcott reconsider the poet as a symbolic figure who did much of the work himself in promoting the evolution of his symbolism. As Walcott puts it, Frost seemed, and to some remains, ``the icon of Yankee values,'' suggestive of ``the smell of wood smoke, the sparkle of dew, the reality of farmhouse dung, the jocular honesty of an uncle.'' All three of the essayists complicate or refute this clichÇ through the act of criticism. The late, Russian-born Brodsky's piece, ``On Grief and Reason,'' included in his 1995 essay collection of the same title, is the most precise, unaffected, and clarifying of the lot, discussing two poems in detail to illuminate Frost's great reserves of inner ``terror.'' Irish poet Heaney, like Brodsky, calls on the metaphor of brimming over to observe, in ``Above the Brim,'' how Frost's poetic ``performance succeeded fully only when it launched itself beyond skill and ego into a run of energy.'' His comments on the Frost poem ``To Earthward'' are especially rousing. Walcott's piece, ``The Road Taken,'' is more facile and less scrutinizing. He generalizes about Frost's work as a whole, based on a long acquaintance with it, and tussles briefly with the poet's alleged racism, concluding, ``A great poem is a state of raceless, sexless, timeless grace.'' Perhaps, but won't some readers hold out hope nonetheless for a literary fate less fatuous? Bound together in one book, these accomplished poets and critics give off a strong whiff of cultural conservatism in an era also interesting for the critical adventures of Andrew Ross and bell hooks. A reader or a critic or a poet would be well advised to read more of Brodsky, Heaney, and Walcott—but also to consult and consort with some true icon-smashers.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-374-17246-3

Page Count: 94

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1996

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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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