At once stimulating and warmhearted, with sentences of drop-dead beauty and acuity on nearly every page.

LIVING, THINKING, LOOKING

ESSAYS

Another superb essay collection from novelist Hustvedt (The Summer without Men, 2011, etc.).

As in her previous collections, Yonder (1998) and A Plea for Eros (2006), the author trains a formidable intellect on difficult subjects (the structure of the brain, the nature of perception) with an engaging personal touch that invites a general readership. In “Excursions to the Islands of the Happy Few,” though she acknowledges the need for specialized vocabulary and research, she regrets the “culture of hyperfocus and expertise” in which “people inhabit disciplinary islands of the like-educated and the like-minded.” Hustvedt, by contrast, has a doctorate in English literature, has written extensively about art and has lectured at neuroscience conferences and at the Sigmund Freud Foundation. The categories invoked in her title—personal essays (Living), intellectual puzzles (Thinking), investigations of art (Looking)—indicate her broad scope; their underlying unity rests on Hustvedt’s consuming interest in connections: between emotion and intellect, memory and imagination, mother and child, artist and audience. Embodied, employed both as a verb and adjective, is a favored word, and it’s no accident that she mentions several times a 1996 neuroscience paper that identified certain “mirror neurons” that fire in the cerebral cortex of macaque monkeys performing a specific physical action and that also fire in monkeys observing the action. She is fascinated by the link between what we do and what we see and by the noncorporeal but nonimaginary spaces where human beings interact emotionally and intellectually. Frequent anecdotes about her extended family and her childhood illustrate her points and lower the intimidation factor; Hustvedt addresses a broad public without dumbing down her material. There are no weak essays here, but some of the best concern art, particularly those on Goya and Louise Bourgeois, whose work provides particularly fertile soil for Hustvedt’s exploration of the “electrical connection [that] takes place between the viewer and the image seen.”

At once stimulating and warmhearted, with sentences of drop-dead beauty and acuity on nearly every page.

Pub Date: June 5, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-250-00952-4

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Picador

Review Posted Online: Feb. 29, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2012

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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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