The publisher promises a second volume of Paul West’s adventures, which is good news. For Clarke’s sake, let’s hope he...

A YEAR IN THE MERDE

The caustic tale of getting a French education the hard way.

British journalist Clarke has camouflaged the particulars, but the gist of this work (originally self-published in France) is apparently drawn directly from his own experience. Here, “Paul West,” his 27-year-old narrator, is hired by a French firm to open British tearooms in Paris, improbable as that sounds. And doomed, too, as Paul goes merrily about poking fun at France’s farcically inefficient businesses, home to the most coddled workers in the universe and plagued by strikes seemingly every day. Paul is the object of some impressive snootery for his woeful French, though he soon learns that living in Paris requires much more than the right accent. The ville lumière is for sharks; you mustn’t worry about people liking you, “you’ve got to show them that you don’t give a shit what they think.” This isn’t difficult when it comes to his co-workers, who “don’t give a shit” either. Paul does, however, feel some loyalty to his boss, until he discovers that Jean-Marie is a marauding opportunist with a soupçon of his venality aimed at the new guy. (He tries to sell Paul a bijou cottage in Normandy, undeterred by the fact that a nuclear power station will be built next door.) With much time on his hands, thanks to the French lack of work ethic, Paul spends much of it in the comical pursuit of women. They bring some fresh air into the narrative, allowing Paul to laugh at himself for a change. Despite the country’s economic and political self-absorption, he does fall for France, its style and especially its food. His affection radiates here, a comforting balance to the wicked mordancy.

The publisher promises a second volume of Paul West’s adventures, which is good news. For Clarke’s sake, let’s hope he doesn’t have to live it to write it.

Pub Date: May 9, 2005

ISBN: 1-58234-591-0

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2005

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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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