Wide-ranging, lucid, and incisive.



A rich collection by an estimable writer.

In advance of a future collected edition of Styron’s (1925-2006) work, West (English/Pennsylvania State Univ.; Making the Archives Talk, 2012, etc.) has selected 92 pieces—essays, reviews, articles, speeches—including eight previously unpublished, which testify impressively to the power of Styron’s nonfiction. Winner of a Pulitzer Prize for the Confessions of Nat Turner (1968), a National Book Award for Sophie’s Choice (1979), and many other honors, Styron is acclaimed primarily as a novelist, but he contributed regularly to the New York Review of Books, the New York Times, the New Yorker, and many other venues, with pieces notable for their intelligence, verve, and crystalline prose. Born and raised in Virginia, the grandson of a slave owner, Styron devoted many essays to race, and one of his long essays follows “the stormy career” of his novel about the insurrectionist slave Nat Turner, which incited accusations that he was racist. Styron defined his generation—including writers such as Mailer, Baldwin, Salinger, Joseph Heller, and Walker Percy—as traumatized not only by their war experiences and the deployment of nuclear weapons, but by the chilling intimation of future conflicts. After the Korean War, “the cosmos seemed so unhinged as to be nearly insupportable,” and he, like others, became mistrustful of power, nationalism, and political hawks. More than a quarter of the collection reflects these views: several essays focus on the Holocaust; one hard-hitting essay profiles a “horribly maimed” Vietnam veteran. Styron marvels that Douglas MacArthur’s memoir is “almost totally free of self-doubt.” Several pieces reflect movingly on Styron’s experience with severe clinical depression. His literary debts emerge in elegies for Faulkner and Fitzgerald, Robert Penn Warren and James Baldwin, Peter Matthiessen and Truman Capote.

Wide-ranging, lucid, and incisive.

Pub Date: June 2, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8129-9705-7

Page Count: 656

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Feb. 24, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2015

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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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