A mixed bag, with a fine piece about baseball at the apex but with otherwise too few memorable moments.

THE PATRON SAINT OF DREAMS

ESSAYS

Mannered essays, written to the academic creative-nonfiction formula, on hurricanes, spirits, death and other such weighty matters.

The formula: Start with a brief declaration; hint that the writer knows something the reader doesn’t; punctuate with a few one-sentence paragraphs, hortatory or expository; layer on a blend of arresting statistics and mundane observations. Thus, writes Gerard (Creative Writing/Univ. of North Carolina, Wilmington; Creative Nonfiction, 2004, etc.): “What they don’t tell you about hurricanes is the uncertainty”; “Her name is Maria”; “Some stories do not have an obvious, coherent narrative.” These are three representative opening sentences, all of which lead to tales about the capriciousness, sorrow and violence of life. Death is a constant, as are observations that death is just plain unfair; constant, too, are notes on the manifold ways in which people get caught up in events, yielding those hortatory and I-know-something-you-don’t turns—e.g., “Let me tell you about the daughter of another soldier…There is no need for you to know her name.” The best pieces in the book—and there are several very good ones here—are simple shaggy-dog stories involving government plots and ghosts, the sorts of things you might tell with cigars and scotch around a fire. The worst are workshop-esque exercises in philosophizing. One essay opens, for instance, with a yarn about James Dickey’s saying over lunch that “after the age of forty a man is responsible for his face,” an apercu that Dickey stole from George Orwell. That observation, repeated in a couple of variations, is really just an in-passing setup for a piece on scars, mortality and aging that struggles to get out from under its own commonplaceness.

A mixed bag, with a fine piece about baseball at the apex but with otherwise too few memorable moments.

Pub Date: March 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-891885-89-1

Page Count: 200

Publisher: Hub City Press

Review Posted Online: Jan. 16, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2012

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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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