A set of brave works featuring first-rate prose.



Ramsey’s (Quitter, 2014) new collection of creative nonfiction and poetry takes on the topics of depression, addiction, and loss.

Structured in four parts, including nonfiction chapbooks and zines, uncollected autobiographical essays, poems, and interviews, this volume impresses with its fresh scrutiny of both inner and outer worlds. “Farthing Street,” for example, begins by describing weeds in a lawn, “tall and heading out to seed, the view from our front stoop full of henbit, broadleaf plantain and pepperweed.” The author’s keen eye then turns inward to recollect watershed moments: a birthday present of a hunting shotgun; a first episode of depression in high school; the difficult birth of his first daughter, Tennessee. The inventory of weeds—growing in a lawn so neglected that the city of Durham, North Carolina, places a notice on the mailbox—blossoms into a full-blown essay that meanders with purpose and insight through major topics, such as his partner’s miscarriage. The essay also offers an unflinching acknowledgement of how difficult early fatherhood is, especially for a person hailing from an abusive family and suffering bouts of debilitating depression, before the speaker strikes out to mow the grass while his daughter, now a toddler, waves at him through the window. Connecting current events and states of mind with potent memories gives the book a poetic resonance as well as solid structure within chapters and across the collection. The author is determined to describe the feeling of a depressive episode—“this understanding that gloom is coming”—as best he can for the sake of readers who might benefit and for his children, who might one day experience the “sinister or beautiful” fact of genetic inheritance. The inevitability of the next spell of depression is terrifying to read about yet necessary to share: “I am lightning connecting with a transformer on a pole; I am a race horse that just broke its leg.” To one of the interview questions, the author responds with a great understatement: “I am not a talker, but I can write.”

A set of brave works featuring first-rate prose.

Pub Date: May 9, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-939899-28-6

Page Count: 169

Publisher: Pioneers Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 15, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2017

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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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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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