The best of these 15 essays by Garrison (English/Central Washington State Univ.), written mostly in the present tense and dealing often with experiences in Mexico or the American Northwest, offer the rewards of superb short fiction—a juxtaposition of emotional and personal significance with strongly evoked settings. ``We practice two kinds of hearing,'' Garrison writes in ``The Tour Guide,'' which combines personal instances with reflections on the nature of narrative. ``At any moment, we may be listening to a story, or we may be listening through it to the suggestions that lie beyond it.'' That sort of layering effect is Garrison's method. In ``Adaptations,'' for instance, he offers pioneer tales, instances of local color (sagebrush, quails, coyotes, etc.), and an aesthetic: ``A story is a series of adaptations. The setting yields the characters that help, scene by scene, reveal the setting....'' While those two pieces are examples of a successful yoking of metafiction and exposition, others avoid the theorizing but take advantage of the aesthetic: ``Independence Day,'' set in Mexico, contrasts subtropical culture to the horrendous death of Garrison's father from cancer, so that the mixture provides a kind of healing (``this side of the border blends the grotesque and the graceful, the elegant and the disgusting''). Garrison is also eclectic: ``Finding Our Lives'' is about a peyote pilgrimage he undertook with the Huichol Indians of Mexico; ``Where Pigs Can See the Wind'' reflects on folk belief, especially in Illinois (where Garrison grew up); and ``Two Love Scenes in Homer'' contrasts honest Achilles and wily Odysseus, symbolizing ``conflict of the literal and the figurative.'' By turns thoughtful and evocative, these essays map out some of the ways in which Northwest nature and Mexican culture comment upon or reflect human nature and the author's mind.

Pub Date: July 1, 1991

ISBN: 0-8203-1312-2

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Univ. of Georgia

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 1991

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


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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For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

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