A moving exploration of widowhood.



Crocker’s memoir about her decision to disinter the coffin where she buried her husband’s letters 40 years earlier, after his death in Vietnam.

In 1969, when Crocker (The Secret Life of Louisa May Alcott, 2013) was 23, her husband Dave was killed in the Vietnam War. They had been married for three years. Distraught, the widow decided that she would not bury his remains but scatter his ashes on the north face of the Eiger, a difficult slope Dave had longed to climb. She placed his letters and photographs, her wedding dress and his Army uniform inside his coffin. The funeral director told her, “Just remember you can’t dig this up. This is permanent.” Crocker was glad to let these memories rest for four decades, until, she writes, “I simply changed my mind.” In 2011, Crocker had the coffin disinterred. She describes this process in the first chapter but leaves readers on the brink of discovering what was inside until the book’s final pages. Since the intervening chapters don’t quote from any of those letters, the final revelation may be anticlimactic. The real focus isn’t on the drama of disinterment but on Crocker’s buried memories, too painful to look at for so many years. With thoughtfulness and grace, she reconstructs the young woman she was (and the family she came from), how she met Dave, what kind of man he was—universally admired and beloved, according to all who served with or met him—being a young military wife, early widowhood, the experience of grief and how she slowly recovered. Her decades-later camaraderie with Dave’s fellow soldiers becomes especially healing. Crocker turns a nice phrase; she says after her husband’s funeral, “The house was jammed with sadness, packed solid with the smother of something terrible.” Some moments (opening the coffin, arriving at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial), however, are elongated in a way that doesn’t create suspense, just impatience.

A moving exploration of widowhood.

Pub Date: May 13, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-940863-00-9

Page Count: 283

Publisher: Elm Grove

Review Posted Online: March 19, 2014

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...



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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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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