A book that effectively presents educators with the essential components of a live theatrical performance, as well as the...

Sojourner's Truth

"I WILL SHAKE EVERY PLACE I GO TO"

A biographical play about activist and former slave Sojourner Truth (circa 1797-1883), enhanced with background information and a supplementary teachers guide.

Hellweg and Kuhn collaborate on an educational play that focuses on the life of Truth and her role in the 19th-century abolitionist movement. This edition includes a full script, illustrated with full-color photographs from one of the play’s performances, as well as relevant historical images. It also includes a comprehensive glossary, detailed references, an audio recording of the play’s performance and a compact disc containing additional materials, including photos and music, which can be used in a school curriculum. The script draws heavily on Truth’s 1850 memoir, often quoting from the original text, and follows a linear narrative from Truth’s birth as a slave in 18th-century New York through her emancipation and involvement with utopian movements, to her emergence as a leading abolitionist in the years before the Civil War. Truth’s character delivers most of the play’s dialogue, supported by a narrator and several other significant people in Truth’s life, played by a single actress. The play’s strength is in its adherence to direct quotations from original documents. However, it’s more effective in performance than in written form, as the authors’ desire for accuracy sometimes conflicts with creating a coherent narrative, leading to distractingly punctuated sentences such as “I am ‘from the Empire State and [know] the laws as well as [you do],’ ” and “[I] seldom saw [my] parents after that,” which appear awkward on the page. The meticulous citations, however, make this flaw forgivable. A “musicology” essay following the script helpfully provides valuable information on the many songs included in the performance.

A book that effectively presents educators with the essential components of a live theatrical performance, as well as the authors’ substantial research on an American icon.

Pub Date: Jan. 10, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-937146-51-1

Page Count: 51

Publisher: Enchanted Circle Theater

Review Posted Online: March 20, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2014

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The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

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A LITTLE LIFE

Four men who meet as college roommates move to New York and spend the next three decades gaining renown in their professions—as an architect, painter, actor and lawyer—and struggling with demons in their intertwined personal lives.

Yanagihara (The People in the Trees, 2013) takes the still-bold leap of writing about characters who don’t share her background; in addition to being male, JB is African-American, Malcolm has a black father and white mother, Willem is white, and “Jude’s race was undetermined”—deserted at birth, he was raised in a monastery and had an unspeakably traumatic childhood that’s revealed slowly over the course of the book. Two of them are gay, one straight and one bisexual. There isn’t a single significant female character, and for a long novel, there isn’t much plot. There aren’t even many markers of what’s happening in the outside world; Jude moves to a loft in SoHo as a young man, but we don’t see the neighborhood change from gritty artists’ enclave to glitzy tourist destination. What we get instead is an intensely interior look at the friends’ psyches and relationships, and it’s utterly enthralling. The four men think about work and creativity and success and failure; they cook for each other, compete with each other and jostle for each other’s affection. JB bases his entire artistic career on painting portraits of his friends, while Malcolm takes care of them by designing their apartments and houses. When Jude, as an adult, is adopted by his favorite Harvard law professor, his friends join him for Thanksgiving in Cambridge every year. And when Willem becomes a movie star, they all bask in his glow. Eventually, the tone darkens and the story narrows to focus on Jude as the pain of his past cuts deep into his carefully constructed life.  

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-53925-8

Page Count: 720

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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Laymon moves us dazzlingly (and sometimes bewilderingly) from 1964 to 1985 to 2013 and incorporates themes of prejudice,...

LONG DIVISION

A novel within a novel—hilarious, moving and occasionally dizzying.

Citoyen “City” Coldson is a 14-year-old wunderkind when it comes to crafting sentences. In fact, his only rival is his classmate LaVander Peeler. Although the two don’t get along, they’ve qualified to appear on the national finals of the contest "Can You Use That Word in a Sentence," and each is determined to win. Unfortunately, on the nationally televised show, City is given the word “niggardly” and, to say the least, does not provide a “correct, appropriate or dynamic usage” of the word as the rules require. LaVander similarly blows his chance with the word “chitterlings,” so both are humiliated, City the more so since his appearance is available to all on YouTube. This leads to a confrontation with his grandmother, alas for City, “the greatest whupper in the history of Mississippi whuppings.” Meanwhile, the principal at City’s school has given him a book entitled Long Division. When City begins to read this, he discovers that the main character is named City Coldson, and he’s in love with a Shalaya Crump...but this is in 1985, and the contest finals occurred in 2013. (Laymon is nothing if not contemporary.) A girl named Baize Shephard also appears in the novel City is reading, though in 2013, she has mysteriously disappeared a few weeks before City’s humiliation. Laymon cleverly interweaves his narrative threads and connects characters in surprising and seemingly impossible ways.

Laymon moves us dazzlingly (and sometimes bewilderingly) from 1964 to 1985 to 2013 and incorporates themes of prejudice, confusion and love rooted in an emphatically post-Katrina world.

Pub Date: June 15, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-932841-72-5

Page Count: 250

Publisher: Bolden/Agate

Review Posted Online: March 14, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2013

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