A useful collection of bracing thoughts and sinuous sentences.

TO SHOW AND TO TELL

THE CRAFT OF LITERARY NONFICTION

One of the Earls of Essay returns with a collection that illustrates both his knowledge of the genre and his considerable skill in practicing it.

Some of these pieces have appeared earlier, and they range in nature from struggles to define the genre, to pedagogical strategies he’s tried (and recommends), to reviews of the essays of other writers—living (Ben Yagoda, whose chin is the target for some Lopate left hooks) and not (Lamb, Hazlitt, James Baldwin). Lopate (Graduate Nonfiction/Columbia Univ.; At the End of the Day: Selected Poems and an Introductory Essay, 2010, etc.) is both at ease and ill at ease with the definitions of “creative nonfiction,” “memoir” and “lyric essay,” and he continually revisits his discomfort. He confesses that he’s neither a philosopher nor a professional rhetorician, so he sometimes has difficulty articulating precisely what he means. Most readers will disagree. Lopate also repeatedly uses moments from his own classroom to illuminate his points, mentioning struggles that students have finding a “voice,” defining the “I” they will use, figuring out how to organize and how to end a personal essay. He urges all to ignite the curiosity and follow its flames. In the piece “The Essay: Exploration or Argument?” he somewhat softens his earlier view that the personal essay contains no argument. We learn that he’s kept a journal since age 17 and that he recognizes, though grates, at the lower status nonfiction inhabits in academe. He takes a little poke at Facebook (though he fears no real evil from it) and expresses great admiration for Emerson and Baldwin, “the most important American essayist since the end of World War II.”

A useful collection of bracing thoughts and sinuous sentences.

Pub Date: Feb. 12, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4516-9632-5

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Free Press

Review Posted Online: Oct. 23, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 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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