LAST PERSON RURAL

Perrin's second ``final'' collection of bucolic essays (some original, the majority reprinted from Smithsonian, Yankee, etc.) appears eight years after his supposedly ultimate compilation (Third Person Rural, 1983)—and it's another convincing bit of rustic Americana. Healthy compost and stylish composition seem to promote a nice symbiosis in the case of Vermont farmer and Dartmouth professor Perrin, as they did in the case of the master, E.B. White. The comparison to White is, perforce, inevitable. But it's apt, and neither author suffers for it. Perrin is one English teacher who minds his peas and ewes with evident joy. Sometimes frisky (there's a tale of a radio-playing cow), occasionally elegiac (as on the changing New England terrain), often outraged (on the death of the small farm or the effects of acid rain), Perrin always has a point of view. Does he present the obligatory, syrupy Vermont Christmas piece? You bet. Does he ask a lot of rhetorical questions? Maybe. And maybe it's all too much for those poor souls not used to wrestling rocks or the smell of damp hay or the taste of state-fair pancakes, but it's all natural, folks. With lifelike plastic flowers, he admits, ``you can have the results of a glowing garden, but you can't have the process of getting there. Process is another name for life itself.'' That's good guidance for readers who may not be used to places without pavement, where all the birds are not pigeons. The text is complemented by a half-dozen woodcuts by Michael McCurdy. A grade-A-to-choice gathering, leaving the reader ready to receive more such terminal discourses from farmer Perrin as he tends his happy 90 acres.

Pub Date: Nov. 15, 1991

ISBN: 0-87923-914-X

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Godine

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 1991

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An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

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BECOMING

The former first lady opens up about her early life, her journey to the White House, and the eight history-making years that followed.

It’s not surprising that Obama grew up a rambunctious kid with a stubborn streak and an “I’ll show you” attitude. After all, it takes a special kind of moxie to survive being the first African-American FLOTUS—and not only survive, but thrive. For eight years, we witnessed the adversity the first family had to face, and now we get to read what it was really like growing up in a working-class family on Chicago’s South Side and ending up at the world’s most famous address. As the author amply shows, her can-do attitude was daunted at times by racism, leaving her wondering if she was good enough. Nevertheless, she persisted, graduating from Chicago’s first magnet high school, Princeton, and Harvard Law School, and pursuing careers in law and the nonprofit world. With her characteristic candor and dry wit, she recounts the story of her fateful meeting with her future husband. Once they were officially a couple, her feelings for him turned into a “toppling blast of lust, gratitude, fulfillment, wonder.” But for someone with a “natural resistance to chaos,” being the wife of an ambitious politician was no small feat, and becoming a mother along the way added another layer of complexity. Throw a presidential campaign into the mix, and even the most assured woman could begin to crack under the pressure. Later, adjusting to life in the White House was a formidable challenge for the self-described “control freak”—not to mention the difficulty of sparing their daughters the ugly side of politics and preserving their privacy as much as possible. Through it all, Obama remained determined to serve with grace and help others through initiatives like the White House garden and her campaign to fight childhood obesity. And even though she deems herself “not a political person,” she shares frank thoughts about the 2016 election.

An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6313-8

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 30, 2018

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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