A humorous take on chronic low back pain, light enough to be held in one hand by anyone lying in traction or otherwise immobilized on a bed of pain. Spengler, a German historian and sinologist and author of the novel Lenin's Brain (1993), has produced 24 gentle essays on the disconcerting, embarrassing, funny, and painful business of living with a bad back. He traces the origins of his own problem to his brief career as an army pallbearer and the arduous rehearsals required for ``Operation Adenauer''—carrying water-filled radiators in preparation for a heavy state coffin. While state funerals might not seem the stuff of humor, Spengler proves otherwise. Back-straining romantic interludes, psychotherapy sessions (``Book and back, that's interesting,'' the therapist notes. ``They even sound alike, and both have a spine.''), mountain climbing, lunch with a film producer, an encounter with a rigorous healer whose technique combined his own manipulations with his mother's prayers, a visit with a Chinese patriarch requiring performance of innumerable full-body kowtows—all are fodder for the brain of the erudite, literate, and well-traveled Spengler, who tells story after self-deprecating little story with style and wit. Especially vivid is his description of traveling to Texas to meet his American translator and being taken out for barbecue and introduced to hot sauce and some high-stepping line dancing, the latter of which had remarkable, if temporary, pain-killing effects. While it is by no means necessary to have suffered from back pain to enjoy Spengler's delightful essays, this would be the perfect gift for anyone who ever has.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1997

ISBN: 0-8050-5552-5

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 1997

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...



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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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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