A creatively rendered, memorable memoir.

IF THE SUN SHOULD ASK

WITCH DOCTORS AND PARABLES

Award-winning poet and writer Lanter (The Final Days, 2013, etc.) remembers growing up in rural Illinois during the middle of the 20th century.

Begun as a set of reminiscences to be shared with relatives at a family reunion, this personal narrative weaves recollections, gossip, popular songs, nursery rhymes, and the author’s own poems and photographs into a rich tapestry depicting life in the American Midwest from 1935 to 1955. Lanter tells of his immigrant ancestors of English, French and German descent; of his birth “six months and ten days” after his parents’ wedding, a fact that in his father’s mind forever marked him as “the symbol of his incarceration in a marriage he did not want.” He led a “happy, unencumbered” childhood “at the edge of the farm doing what rural people have always done to give meaning to their interests and concerns. We had work to help with, planting and digging potatoes and otherwise tending the garden.” In a one-room country schoolhouse and at a small-town high school, he stumbled through the maze of pubescence, victory gardens, blackouts, and maimed and broken veterans returning home from World War II. He tells of his love and aptitude for basketball and baseball, which opened the way for his escape to university, “out of the village, out of the welding shop and away from the coal mines where a number of my friends were already headed.” Lanter’s verse beautifully communicates the emotional content of the narrative, while the songs and rhymes he includes (“You’re in the Army Now,” “This Little Piggy Went to Market”)provide historical context as well as a bridge to shared childhood experiences. Though the text is at times heavy on details, it is a measure of the writer’s skill that the book’s diverse elements coalesce and invoke in readers a feeling of nostalgia for a past they may never have known.

A creatively rendered, memorable memoir.

Pub Date: Feb. 6, 2014

ISBN: 978-0983841227

Page Count: 458

Publisher: Twiss Hill Press

Review Posted Online: May 22, 2014

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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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