PAPER TRAIL

ESSAYS

Known primarily as a novelist (Working Men, 1993; Morning Girls, 1992; The Crown of Columbus with his wife, Louise Erdrich, 1991) and for The Broken Cord, which described his oldest son Abel's affliction with fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS), Dorris here offers an array of previously published essays. Some are personal, about growing up and becoming a parent; some are polemical, concerning Native Americans and their history. However diverse the original audiences—the pieces appeared in the New York Times, Family Circle, TV Guide, and elsewhere—Dorris' engaging and incisive style holds them all together. Part Indian himself, raised by his war-widowed mother, grandmother, and aunt, and the adoptive single parent of three Indian children (before his marriage to Erdrich), Dorris brings a rare sensitivity and a unique point of view to such universal experiences as baking a cake for his son's nursery school party, traveling cross-country with his children, finding the ``great pie,'' and piercing his son's ear. The heavy observations begin with the adolescence of his children, all three of whom suffered from FAS (which he described for Newsweek and in a report for the Centers for Disease Control). He evokes the frustrations and resourcefulness of a parent whose children are prone to unpredictable, sometimes violent behavior. He recounts how Abel died after being struck by a motorist just as filming began for a TV movie of the The Broken Cord. Much of Paper Trail is about Native Americans and the stereotypes, realities, and cultural fictions that perpetuate their marginal status in America. Though all the essays are grounded in a sense of private history, Dorris does consider, more generally, questions about the nature and function of history. In such pieces, the novelist becomes a cultural commentator, learned, persuasive, overcoming guilt by issuing a call for responsibility. Collectively, the essays evoke the pathos, joy, and mystery of unaccountable suffering and unbearable loss, of spiritual triumph and enduring love, conveying universal experiences in a simple and touching language.

Pub Date: April 1, 1994

ISBN: 0-06-016971-0

Page Count: 384

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 1994

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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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