A valedictory work full of erudition and heart.


The late, great Mexican novelist and critic (1928-2012) offers a personal history of the fiction he admired.

Fuentes (Destiny and Desire, 2011, etc.) has few harsh words for anyone in this history (though he calls some work by Ken Follett “startlingly bad”), which commences in the 16th century with Bernal Díaz del Castillo’s True History of the Conquest of New Spain, a work that Fuentes identifies as the first novel of Latin America. Early on, the author begins referring to some literary lions who roared elsewhere, writers to whom he returns throughout this richly detailed and idiosyncratic work—among them, Cervantes, Proust, and Faulkner. In many ways a scholarly work as well, the text alludes to Max Weber, Erasmus, Rousseau, and other intellectual notables. Fuentes writes frequently about the novelists’ use of time, place, and, most of all, language. The organization is chronological at first and later, geographical, as he looks at the novels of writers from Chile, Brazil, Nicaragua, Peru, and elsewhere. (He admits a sort of “Mexican bias,” but he also spends a lot of time with Argentinian writers.) Fuentes is also aware of a male dominance and makes a serious effort, especially in the final quarter of the book, to highlight novels by women. Effusive praise appears often, and he features such locutions as, “his prose is as bright and clear as day,” and “a brilliant, richly textured book.” A subtitle for this book could be Novels I Have Loved. Fuentes occasionally offers declarations about the novel (“There can be no literature without the body”) and also provides, in instructional fashion, lists of writers and works and commonalities among them. In moments that have enormous contemporary resonance, he argues powerfully for the great advantages of immigration.

A valedictory work full of erudition and heart.

Pub Date: Feb. 12, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-62897-130-9

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Dalkey Archive

Review Posted Online: Nov. 29, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2015

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...



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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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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