THE BEST AMERICAN ESSAYS 1991

Oates, in her introduction, defines the essay, a  la Randall Jarrell, as "prose works of certain lengths that have many more things right about them than wrong" Montaigne, Hazlitt, Mandelstam would roll in their graves! Only Richard Rodriguez's "Late Victorians"—domestic architecture as sexuality in gay San Francisco—brings a remarkable voice to bear on an idea worthy of the great essay masters. From most everybody else here, the essay seems to he something that (1) can't quite he fiction and (2) must he too long (or, if short, smug). Gerald Early's intriguing piece about black female self-image overshoots the runway and travels on and on and on...forever. Likewise Mark Rudman's at first genial piece about walking. Ditto pieces by Reg Saner, Jane Tompkins, Garrett Hongo. On the short, smug side, Elizabeth Hardwick's impressions of New York's desuetude must he the most pretentious thing she's ever written, Gretel Ehrlich's contribution the same. Intellectual and stylistic mediocrity is the province here of Woody Allen, Judith Ortiz Cofer, Frank Conroy, Dorien Rosa, Amy Tan, and Joy Williams. A few modest personal pieces do hold their own, powered by self-analysis—by Diana Hume George, Naomi Shihab Nye, and Marianna De Marco Torgovnick; and Margaret Atwood's "The Female Body" is vinegary fun. Overall, though, not the essay's finest outing.

Pub Date: Oct. 29, 1991

ISBN: 0-89919-929-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1991

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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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