WRITING

In this very slender volume, Duras shares with us the writer’s preoccupations with the distance between life and writing, and the contradiction between writing and silence. Winner of the 1984 Prix Goncourt for her novel The Lover, Duras died in 1996. She is without a doubt one of this century’s great literary figures. But that haunting quality, the characteristically slow and deliberate language of her novels, translates less well when her subject is a kind of confessional of her life and work. The five short chapters that make up Writing circle around Duras’s way into and out of the world. Her bare prose casts that same silence she considers fundamental to any writer: It is —the price one pays for having dared go out and scream.” At this point, one chooses to either get lost in her fantasy or bow out, because much of Duras’s prose begs the point with characteristic vagueness. Whether sitting alone considering the death of a fly, or trying to capture the entire life of a young pilot in the moment of his death, Duras is convinced that the “death of that fly has become this displacement of literature” and that writing it “renders it inaccessible.” What remains is the nakedness of writing itself, and Duras hones this point into the ground. Strangely, the most poignant image of the creative act according to Duras comes in her final chapter, “The Painting Exhibition,” where she describes the painter at work. “We leave him to his misfortune, to that infernal obligation that outstrips any commentary, any metaphor . . . to his own story . . . struggling in the continent of silence.” Duras’s theory of the written word would rob her life’s work of the magic she has so masterfully created over a lifetime. Rereading The Lover might be the only antidote to so much discomfort.

Pub Date: May 30, 1998

ISBN: 1-57129-053-2

Page Count: 98

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 1998

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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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