An encyclopedic look at literary landscapes featuring an encyclopedia’s breadth and lack of depth.



A stroll through 98 of “the greatest fictional worlds ever created.”

Overseen by editor Miller (The Magician’s Book: A Skeptic’s Adventures in Narnia, 2008, etc.), longtime editor and critic at, a host of writers contribute short essays on books ranging from The Epic of Gilgamesh up through Salman Rushdie’s Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights (2015). Sidebars introduce factoids about the selections. The copiously illustrated volume is arranged chronologically and divided, rather arbitrarily, into sections titled “Ancient Myth & Legend,” “Science & Romanticism,” “Golden Age of Fantasy,” “New World Order,” and “The Computer Age.” Aside from a brief opening essay by Miller, readers are left on their own to make sense of these varied fictional landscapes. Most will find some that are deeply familiar and others that are new: for every Nineteen Eighty-Four or Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, there is an Egalia’s Daughters, a feminist satire by Norwegian Gerd Mjoen Brantenberg, or a Lagoon, a work of science fiction by Nnedi Okorafor set in Nigeria. Children’s literature is well-represented, and though the volume skews toward works written in the last half-century or so, the editor makes a noble effort to include earlier books. The entries in general follow a formulaic pattern, with a bit of historical context, an extensive summary of the book in question, a few quotations, a little literary analysis, and a paragraph about other books by the author and writers the book has influenced. The volume, often academic in tone, is best taken in small doses. The best essays, such as Abigail Nussbaum’s quirky tribute to Tove Jansson’s The Moomins and the Great Flood or Lev Grossman’s salute to the “just slightly askew” world of David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest, transport the book out of the realm of the committee into that of personal passion.

An encyclopedic look at literary landscapes featuring an encyclopedia’s breadth and lack of depth.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-316-31638-5

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Black Dog & Leventhal

Review Posted Online: Sept. 6, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2016

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...



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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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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