This last word from the novelist provides a nice footnote on his own writing.

A PLACE IN THE COUNTRY

The late German novelist’s essays of appreciation for writers and artists whose influences pervade his work.

The last book published by Sebald receives its first English translation, after it was issued in Europe in 1998. American readers will likely find it illuminating for its insight into the author’s work and its obsessions, themes, and observations on home and exile. When he writes, in his essay on Rousseau, how “one could also see writing as a continually self-perpetuating compulsive act, evidence that of all individuals afflicted by the disease of thought, the writer is perhaps the most incurable,” it’s plain that this writer is also writing about himself. The longest, most ambitious and revelatory essay is subtitled “A Remembrance of Robert Walser,” who was diagnosed as a schizophrenic, died institutionalized, and was little-known or -read when he was alive: “The traces that Robert Walser left on his path through life were so faint to have almost been effaced altogether.” Yet Sebald’s critical resurrection will likely spark the reader’s interest in an author “who almost always wrote the same thing and yet never repeated himself” and who felt that “he was always writing the same novel, from one prose work to the next—a novel which, he says, one could describe as ‘a much chopped-up or disremembered Book of Myself.’ ” (Walter Benjamin remarked that the characters in Walser’s fiction came “from insanity and nowhere else.”) Contemplating the work of others, Sebald writes from a writer’s rather than a reader’s perspective, of one who shares the affliction, who recognizes that, as he writes of painter Jan Peter Tripp, “beneath the surface of illusion there lurks a terrifying abyss. It is, so to speak, the metaphysical underside of reality, its dark inner lining.”

This last word from the novelist provides a nice footnote on his own writing.

Pub Date: Feb. 11, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4000-6771-8

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Dec. 4, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2013

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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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