BADLANDS

Welsh essayist-tourist Minhinnick travels selected irrational backwaters with a combination of Martin Amislike hyperbolic prose and Bruce Chatwinlike wanderlust. Whether trucking relief supplies to post-Communist Albania, reconnoitering his native Wales, or aimlessly wandering California's schizoid landscape, Minhinnick is always on the watch for the incongruous juxtapositions of postmodern life, as well as for a striking simile. At home he turns up a prehistoric barrow, carefully posted by the English Heritage society, nearby a crop circle during the New Age hoax's epidemic; and he endures the media spectacle of watching the Welsh soccer team's match against post-Ceauescu Romania for the World Cup qualifying finals. In the fruitfully weird USA, he finds an eccentric fellow traveler in ``Mars'' Barlow, an asthmatic, sugar-addicted college instructor who teaches ``prairie children prairie literature'' and shoplifts Heidegger and X-Files paperbacks. Minhinnick's trips on interstate bus rides and to dinosaur-fossil parks in the original badlands are accompanied by Mars's breathless rants on televised executions, UFOs, militias, and the word ``vug'' (a Cornish mining term). By himself in California, Minhinnick unearths such oddities as a jogger killed by a mountain lion attracted by her musk perfume and recycling fanatic Frank Schiavo's legal battles to exempt himself from garbage taxes. Sometimes Minhinnick's entertaining, high-altitude flights of rhetoric overshoot the ground he's trying to cover, such as the current state of England or an array of travel vignettes. Just as often, though, these ironic, impressionistic essays spread out an expansive map of the world's absurd zones; the most notable are his experiences in Albania, where the children are no longer named after dictator Enver Hoxha but after Elvis and Clinton instead. Not quite crazy enough for true gonzo writing. Minhinnick nonetheless turns up enough fear and loathing during his global road trips.

Pub Date: Feb. 3, 1997

ISBN: 1-85411-157-4

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Dufour

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 1996

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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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