A poignant reminder of the power and appeal of a voice now silent.

HAVANAS IN CAMELOT

PERSONAL ESSAYS

Slim but substantial gathering of personal pieces by the late novelist and memoirist.

Not long before he died, Styron (1925–2006) began assembling this collection, a task completed by his widow Rose and biographer James L.W. West III. Several pieces appear here for the first time; all bear the hallmarks of Styron’s better work: fresh language, self-deprecation, unpretentiousness, wry liberalism, candor and, at times, an anger burning like magma beneath a deceptively placid surface. Most originally appeared in the 1990s; they deal with subjects as varied as the obsession for cigars that permeated the JFK Administration (the title essay), a bout with syphilis (sort of) in the Marines, walks with his dog, the importance of libraries, urological problems. This last subject provides one of his best lines: “I declared to the bishop that the nonexistence of God could be proved by the existence of the prostate gland.” There are some pieces about experiences with other writers, including a liquor-soaked cross-country train ride with Terry Southern and his long friendship with James Baldwin. Styron (A Tidewater Morning: Three Tales from Youth, 1993, etc.) praises the work of some contemporaries, most notably Norman Mailer, James Jones and Truman Capote. (Styron confesses to jealousy when he first read Other Voices, Other Rooms.) A swift tribute to Mark Twain points to some similarities. Both grew up near rivers (Styron by Virginia’s James), and both, in Huckleberry Finn and The Confessions of Nat Turner, touched the most sensitive of American nerve endings. Styron ruminates about his boyhood diary—why wasn’t he reading more, he wonders?—slams Disney for their planned Virginia theme park, has kind words for the French and recalls in several pieces his work on his first novel, Lie Down in Darkness (1951). He also toys with the very funny image of assorted solemn intellectual figures—Oliver Wendell Holmes, Thomas Mann, Immanuel Kant—in jogging attire.

A poignant reminder of the power and appeal of a voice now silent.

Pub Date: April 15, 2008

ISBN: 978-1-4000-6719-0

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2008

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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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