Makes up for 12 months’ worth of missed magazines in one fell swoop.

THE BEST AMERICAN ESSAYS 2005

Guest editor Orlean shakes some dust off this valuable 20-year-old series, serving up a tasty sampler of the year’s more ruminative writing.

As series editor Robert Atwan notes in his forward, the essay was considered essentially dead when the first volume appeared in 1985, an assumption vigorously refuted here. Given Orlean’s long association with the New Yorker, it’s hardly surprising that 7 of her 25 selections first appeared there; it’s also more than justified, as the magazine was having a particularly fecund year, and she’s identified the cream of that excellent crop. Pieces from David Remnick’s fiefdom include Catherine Schine’s heartbreaking “Dog Trouble,” about what happens when a dog owner reaches the end of her leash; David Sedaris’s “Old Faithful,” in which a lanced boil becomes a metaphor for togetherness; and Ian Frazier’s zippy ode to forgetfulness, “If Memory Doesn’t Serve.” Harper’s contributes two treasures: Jonathan Lethem’s “Speak, Hoyt-Schermerhorn,” a poignant memory-poem about the Brooklyn subway stop of his childhood that metastasizes into a miniature history of the whole subway system and by extension New York itself; and Kitty Burns Florey’s delightfully geeky “Sister Bernadette’s Barking Dog,” which sings the nearly lost delights of diagramming sentences. Many of the pieces concern the authors’ little joys, which are then spun into larger tapestries of linguistic pleasure. This is an almost unseemly happy book, with a few exceptions. In “The Sea of Information” (from the Kenyon Review), Andrea Barrett details research for a historical novel, funded by a fellowship that began in New York City on September 10, 2001. In “Consider the Lobster,” originally published in Gourmet, David Foster Wallace travels to the Maine Lobster Festival and vigorously shakes until all the lies drop right out of the lobster, and ultimately the meat industry. Two essays heavily reference the late Julia Child—and who could have a problem with that?

Makes up for 12 months’ worth of missed magazines in one fell swoop.

Pub Date: Oct. 5, 2005

ISBN: 0-618-35712-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 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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