Lit throughout by the bright star of wonder.

A SLIP OF THE KEYBOARD

COLLECTED NONFICTION

The celebrated creator of the Discworld series of fantasy novels offers an eclectic collection of pieces and speeches from as early as the 1970s.

Pratchett (The Long Mars, 2014, etc.), who has Alzheimer’s disease, writes often about his enemy-illness in this thematic collection. The author “went public” with his illness at the time of his diagnosis and has proved a worthy adversary of the illness and advocate for increased medical research. Throughout this inimitable collection, a number of traits and themes emerge. His biting—often self-deprecating—wit is evident on nearly every page, as is his wonder at being the literary celebrity that he is. He most assuredly realizes and is profoundly grateful for his stellar fortune, and he defends his genre both with humor and with passion (he believes that most fiction is fantasy) and repeatedly credits his predecessors and literary mentors, especially Tolkien, whose Lord of the Rings, he tells us, he used to reread every summer. Pratchett writes about his own religious beliefs—or, rather, lack of them. “I don’t think I’ve found God,” he wrote in 2008, “but I may have seen where gods come from.” He also rails against aspects of society he finds repellant; number crunchers and warmongers come in for some special disdain. The author has keen thoughts about education, as well, arguing that we should first erect a library and then build a school around it, and he blasts those who ignore the health of the environment. There is some repetition—not unexpected in a collection ranging over several decades. He writes continually about his affection for The Wind in the Willows, a book that captured and changed him in boyhood. He offers some advice for would-be fantasy writers (“You need to know how your world works”) and reminds us that at the heart of the genre is hope. Pratchett’s close friend and fellow literary celebrity Neil Gaiman provides the foreword.

Lit throughout by the bright star of wonder.

Pub Date: Sept. 23, 2014

ISBN: 978-0385538305

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Aug. 11, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2014

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NUTCRACKER

This is not the Nutcracker sweet, as passed on by Tchaikovsky and Marius Petipa. No, this is the original Hoffmann tale of 1816, in which the froth of Christmas revelry occasionally parts to let the dark underside of childhood fantasies and fears peek through. The boundaries between dream and reality fade, just as Godfather Drosselmeier, the Nutcracker's creator, is seen as alternately sinister and jolly. And Italian artist Roberto Innocenti gives an errily realistic air to Marie's dreams, in richly detailed illustrations touched by a mysterious light. A beautiful version of this classic tale, which will captivate adults and children alike. (Nutcracker; $35.00; Oct. 28, 1996; 136 pp.; 0-15-100227-4)

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 1996

ISBN: 0-15-100227-4

Page Count: 136

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1996

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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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