STORM COUNTRY

A JOURNEY THROUGH THE HEART OF AMERICA

America's Great Plains—as seen through a glass darkly. In 1990, as British novelist Davies (Dollarville, 1989) cruised mid-America in an old Ford pickup, he might have crossed paths with Dayton Duncan, who was exploring roughly the same area in a GMC Suburban, preparing to report on his trip in Miles from Nowhere (p. 345). But the Briton and the Yankee found two very different countries. While Duncan took as his metaphor the land's vast emptiness, Davies takes as his its raging storms, particularly its numerous tornadoes, magnificent but deadly. And unlike Duncan's approach—respectful, even reverent, with deep delving into the region's history—Davies's take is sassy, sharp, and alienated, with little attention to the past: ``I was back in the heart of America now....It's the nearest thing I know to going to the moon- -and I love it.'' But does he really? No doubt Davies is in awe of the Midwest and its wild weather—his strongest passages here, crackling with energy, describe storms he evaded or chased—but he finds much to criticize harshly as well, from missile bases to racism (particularly against Native Americans, a theme that dominates the many—and filler-dull—pages detailing his visit to the South Dakota set of the film Thunderheart) to drunks and fools (about two Utah motel-owners: ``I'm talking a comedy double act of congenital idiots here, a short and shapeless mother and daughter, both lank of hair, slack of lip, stale of odor''). Throughout, one senses that although Davies looks with gusto at all the right places—a baseball game, a rodeo, a buffalo herd, a dance, a classic diner, and so on—he sees only America's surface, never its beating heart. Lively but not revealing—for that, see the Duncan or Ian Frazier's Great Plains (1989).

Pub Date: May 1, 1993

ISBN: 0-679-40885-1

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1993

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

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

Did you like this book?

more