WHY I HAVE NOT WRITTEN ANY OF MY BOOKS

``Ceci n'est pas un livre,'' declares the author of this mercurially playful paradox of confessional literature, authorial awakening, and creative endeavor. The French BÇnabou has, of course, written many books, including Throw Away This Book Before It's Too Late (1992), and is the Definitively Provisional Secretary of surrealist Raymond Queneau's Oulipo (Workshop for Potential Literature), an experimental collective that has included Marcel Duchamp, Italo Calvino, and BÇnabou's friend Georges Perec. The first section of this peculiarly circular work has (following a series of tongue-in- cheek introductions) as its opening sentence the line ``In the beginning, a short sentence.'' This turns out to be, in fact, the book's conclusion. How BÇnabou got to this conclusion is another story, which he obliquely recounts in the rest of ``this (quite real) nonbook.'' It involves an early love for secondhand books and blank notebooks, progresses with uncertainty toward an inchoate life as a writer, and stalls. After such metaliterary hijinks and post-Romantic self-consciousness, BÇnabou restarts himself, focusing on his family history (his ancestors were Sephardic Jews resident in Morocco) and in particular on the occasion when his great-grandfather appeared in a travelogue about Morocco by Pierre Loti (the origin of his family's francophilia). BÇnabou's inheritance is thus split several ways, among an ``exotic'' Arabic background, Jewish heritage, and French acculturation, an identity crisis further complicated by the influence-anxiety he catches from numerous actual books. Before he's finished with his search for the ideal, or potential, book, BÇnabou has juggled with the ideas of Pascal, Borges, Walter Benjamin, and Derrida. A hyperaware and erudite product of Gallic postmodernism, BÇnabou's ludic essay dodges giddily among romantic notions of writing and Parnassian ideals of literature.

Pub Date: May 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-8032-1239-9

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Univ. of Nebraska

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 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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