Members of Merriman’s generation will find this book familiar and moving; younger generations will see through popular...

THE PILGRIM SOUL

A QUEST FOR SELF IN AN AGE OF DISILLUSIONMENT

A thoughtful memoir of the search for meaning in post World War II America.

Merriman escapes Nazi-threatened Russia by the wit and charm of her egotistical, controlling father, only to find that life in America isn’t all that her parents promised her. Growing up in New York City, she spurns the safe, bourgeoisie life of her parents and their expatriate friends and chooses the life of an artist. She smokes pot, attends art school and keeps the company of various unsavory but passionate characters. Later, attempting to paint in a small town in Spain, she leaves the risks of her family’s Jewish faith for the austerity of the Catholic Church. Her conversion takes her on another journey, as she flits from church to church, attempts to dissolve her passionless but appropriate marriage and spends time at the Grail, a women’s religious community in Ohio. Merriman’s prose is lush, conscientious and purposeful. She examines all sides of Jewish cultural identity, European versus American values, the nature of art, and religious piety. Her shopping spree for meaning is quintessentially American, and her story is an in-depth exploration of a generation set adrift between the destruction wreaked by the Holocaust and the prosperity and consumerism of post-war America. She shines a harsh light on everyone, especially herself, and she is rigorous yet kind in her judgments. While her prose can sometimes skew toward the melodramatic, Merriman never falls prey to self-indulgence or the ready-made narratives similar memoirs are so often afflicted with. Her tenuous relationship with her parents, her examination of their difficult marriage and her refusal to give up her dreams because of the sacrifices they made for her are almost shocking in light of the tragedy they survived. Her politics, especially as they relate to religion, feel hollow and confused at times, but it is the confusion of a neophyte and young person rather than the putting-on of airs so many other spiritual memoirs succumb to. All in all, her story is honest, intentional and infused with a commitment to self-exploration sorely lacking in many memoirs today.

Members of Merriman’s generation will find this book familiar and moving; younger generations will see through popular stereotypes into the real struggles of their parents and grandparents.

Pub Date: July 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-557-47890-3

Page Count: 471

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: Sept. 17, 2010

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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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