A collection that can’t be categorized as memoir or travel writing or literary criticism but cohesively combines such...

SIDEWALKS

Place, identity and the limitations of language converge in this slim collection of illuminating and incisive essays.

In her debut novel, Faces in the Crowd, published in America concurrently with this volume, Luiselli writes of literary recognition as a “virus,” one that these simultaneous publications is sure to spread. If anything, these essays are more impressive in both their expansiveness and epigrammatic precision, as the young writer—born in Mexico City, prolific in her output and currently studying for a doctorate in comparative literature at Columbia—mediates between her scholarship and her personal experience. The collection begins and ends in a cemetery in Venice, with the author making a pilgrimage to the grave of the exiled poet in the opening “Joseph Brodsky’s Room and a Half” and then returning full circle with the closing “Permanent Residence,” which ends with a vision of her own tombstone, after an admission that “writing about Venice is like emptying a glass of water into the sea.” In between, she writes of other places—primarily Mexico City and New York—and maps, architecture and, always, books and authors. “Going back to a book is like returning to the cities we believe to be our own, but which, in reality, we’ve forgotten and been forgotten by,” she writes. “In a city—in a book—we vainly revisit passages, looking for nostalgias that no longer belong to us….Rereading is not like remembering. It’s more like rewriting ourselves.” Whatever she writes about, ultimately, she’s writing about language, exploring the possibilities of words as well as recognizing their limits: “Perhaps learning to speak is realizing, little by little, that we can say nothing about anything.”

A collection that can’t be categorized as memoir or travel writing or literary criticism but cohesively combines such elements and more.

Pub Date: May 13, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-56689-356-5

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Coffee House

Review Posted Online: March 18, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 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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