THE LAST ITALIAN

A look at modern-day Italy by a New Yorker writer who spent part of his childhood in the peninsula and has been returning for extended visits ever since. This book of essays picks up where Murray's earlier memoirs left off (Italy: The Fatal Gift, 1982). In an attempt to get beneath the picture-perfect Italy described by most guidebooks, Murray delves into the country's back streets, talking to the ``little people''—waiters, shopkeepers, etc.—and into its darkest secrets, exploring such recent scandals as the collapse of the Rizzoli publishing empire and the murder of Italian playboy Francesco D'Alessio by American model Terry Broome. Some of his essays are place-oriented, others center on people, but all portray a complex culture afflicted by industrialized ills yet still imbued with a strong sense of the past. Murray is at his best when making small insightful observations (``the old people seem, in a way, to be mourning for a way of life which is vanishing'') or relaying surprising tidbits of information (murder is rare in Rome). His essays on Sperlonga, once a poor village, now a fashionable resort; on Naples, ``an elegant old invalid'' still recovering from the earthquake of 1980, and on the D'Alessio affair are especially fascinating. Still other essays fall surprisingly flat. Murray is occasionally repetitious (his Pozzuoli and Naples chapters are very similar) and bland. The book lacks cohesion as well, and although he tries to bring it all together through his final portrait of ``The Last Italian,'' ``living out his last days...in the streets of San Francisco,'' the conceit doesn't quite work. But despite the lack of a strong unifying shape and occasional weak spots, Murray's thoughtful, well-written essays offer unusual insight into the daily concerns of late-20th-century Italy.

Pub Date: June 17, 1991

ISBN: 0-13-508227-7

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Prentice Hall

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1991

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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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