PULIGNY-MONTRACHET

JOURNAL OF A VILLAGE IN BURGUNDY

Saucy guide to and social history of a wine-making village in France, first published in France in 1988 and then in Britain in 1992. Loftus is a wine merchant, hotelier, restaurateur, and writer of wine catalogs as well of as other books published overseas. Millionaires from around the world, Loftus tells us, vie for tiny allocations of the fabulous, hideously expensive white burgundies of Puligny-Montrachet—wines whose scent is ``a mixture of fresh straw and ripe peaches, an earthy intensity underlying the elegance, suggestions of woodsmoke, of honey and of freshly sawn oak.'' The small, stony vineyards that produce the rival burgundies of the area were first cultivated by monks many centuries ago. The characters of these wines, Loftus says, stem as much from the complexities in temperament of the owners as from variations in the pungency of the soil. The author, a passionate taster, finds infinite gradations in the ever-shifting flavors in vintages (``Ramonet...reminded me of rich quince and apple pie, complete with cloves''). A late burst of sunshine before harvesting, he says, can lend a wine serious promise. Judging by Loftus, rivalry between the local vineyards of small, sleepy Puligny and even smaller nearby Chassagne runs deep, with a peculiarly French animus, though much of Puligny's produce is owned and managed by outsiders while Chassagne is still owned by locals. A year in Burgundy with Loftus, when set beside a year in Provence with Peter Mayle, is like comparing a splendid, quite noble vintage to dreary table wine—Mayle lacks acidity, richness of character, and fruitiness. We enter many cellars here—though the cellars in Puligny are above ground because of the very high water table—meet the village folk, and follow the year's rhythms and yields, with sharply etched portraits of landowners and townspeople alike. Lofty but fun, with 34 very fine, personal photographs taken by the author.

Pub Date: May 3, 1993

ISBN: 0-679-41814-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1993

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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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