A simple, disciplined, and affecting addition to the genre of Holocaust memoirs.

I CARRIED THEM WITH ME

A YOUNG GIRL'S JOURNEY TO SURVIVE

A debut author recounts her experiences before and during the Holocaust.

Born in the eastern Czechoslovakian town of Sekernice to a family of religious Jews, Lumer had a traditional upbringing in a time and place with few amenities. She was responsible for working at her parents’ store, caring for her younger siblings, and praying every day: “I had no idea what I was saying, but I knew it was very important, because if I didn’t say that prayer every morning, there was a very good chance I would get punished by God.” The first section of the book comprises anecdotes about growing up in Sekernice, a multilingual town in the Carpathian Mountains home to various ethnic groups and religious traditions. The second section follows Lumer’s life after her relocation in 1943 to Budapest, where her parents sent her at the age of 15 in hopes that she would be safe there with her older brothers for the duration of World War II. The following spring, Germany invaded Hungary and began deporting its Jews to concentration camps. Lumer’s wartime experiences included multiple camps and forced marches in dire conditions, though she somehow found the will—and luck—to remain alive despite all that the world threw at her. The author, as the introduction reveals, wrote this book with the editing help of Joe Lumer, her son; it is dedicated to his memory. She tells her story in simple, declarative prose, with little commentary beyond the bare facts and emotions of each experience. “The guards kept telling us it was only a little longer, only a little farther, and we would arrive,” she writes of one march. “I fell again and couldn’t get up, so I started crawling on all fours, like a dog.” She resists offering easy explanations of the conflict and the genocide, or what both might portend for the future, simply repeating her remembrances and allowing them to weigh on readers. This gives the earlier episodes, like the one involving Lumer carrying a live chicken in a sack to the shochet (slaughter), an almost folkloric quality. The later recollections vividly reveal the horrific absurdity of war.

A simple, disciplined, and affecting addition to the genre of Holocaust memoirs.

Pub Date: May 29, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-692-80577-0

Page Count: 193

Publisher: Temple Hill Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 7, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2017

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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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Necessarily swift and adumbrative as well as inclusive, focused, and graceful.

A LITTLE HISTORY OF POETRY

A light-speed tour of (mostly) Western poetry, from the 4,000-year-old Gilgamesh to the work of Australian poet Les Murray, who died in 2019.

In the latest entry in the publisher’s Little Histories series, Carey, an emeritus professor at Oxford whose books include What Good Are the Arts? and The Unexpected Professor: An Oxford Life in Books, offers a quick definition of poetry—“relates to language as music relates to noise. It is language made special”—before diving in to poetry’s vast history. In most chapters, the author deals with only a few writers, but as the narrative progresses, he finds himself forced to deal with far more than a handful. In his chapter on 20th-century political poets, for example, he talks about 14 writers in seven pages. Carey displays a determination to inform us about who the best poets were—and what their best poems were. The word “greatest” appears continually; Chaucer was “the greatest medieval English poet,” and Langston Hughes was “the greatest male poet” of the Harlem Renaissance. For readers who need a refresher—or suggestions for the nightstand—Carey provides the best-known names and the most celebrated poems, including Paradise Lost (about which the author has written extensively), “Kubla Khan,” “Ozymandias,” “The Charge of the Light Brigade,” Wordsworth and Coleridge’s Lyrical Ballads, which “changed the course of English poetry.” Carey explains some poetic technique (Hopkins’ “sprung rhythm”) and pauses occasionally to provide autobiographical tidbits—e.g., John Masefield, who wrote the famous “Sea Fever,” “hated the sea.” We learn, as well, about the sexuality of some poets (Auden was bisexual), and, especially later on, Carey discusses the demons that drove some of them, Robert Lowell and Sylvia Plath among them. Refreshingly, he includes many women in the volume—all the way back to Sappho—and has especially kind words for Marianne Moore and Elizabeth Bishop, who share a chapter.

Necessarily swift and adumbrative as well as inclusive, focused, and graceful.

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-300-23222-6

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Yale Univ.

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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