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of living as tourists in the jungle. In acutely sensuous prose, Gillison tells a story that is both frightening and real. In the tradition of Heart of Darkness or The Turn ofthe Screw, she weds gothicism and realism to show how a place may become malevolent , and how a lack of self-awareness may be lethal. In some ways, The Undiscovered Country is more frightening than these two classics because "The horror!" is witnessed from the inside. (SM) The Children by David Halberstam Random House, 1998, 783 pp., $29.95 Taylor Branch's 1988 Parting the Waters told the story of the civil rights movement through the eyes of the movement's leaders: Martin Luther King, Jr., Ralph Abernathy, A. Phillip Randolph and others. As its title implies, David Halberstam's The Children tells the story through the eyes of the foot soldiers of the movement . Specifically, Halberstam focuses on a group of students in Nashville who formed their nonviolent consciousness under the tutelage of Vanderbilt divinity student Jim Lawson. These young people came from all different regions and classes but were united by their revulsion atAmerica's institutionalized racism. The actions of the individuals involved are breathtaking in their idealism and daring. One young woman, Diane Nash, puts Nashville's mayor in his place on the courthouse steps. Bernard Lafayette moves with his wife to Selma, Alabama, to organize voters. Despite the open hostility toward his cause, he isn't afraid to take a daily bike ride, alone, through town. John Lewis leads a march across Petrus Bridge in Selma, knowing he may be killed on the other side. In the end, Halberstam amply shows, small acts of great courage changed America. Unfortunately, Halberstam's execution of the story leaves a great deal to be desired. Especially in the later sections, the book often reads as if it were written by a committee. And while turgid prose is perhaps excusable in a work of this length and scope, bad grammar, malapropisms and poor punctuation are not. For example, at one point Colia Layfette is said to know that "her father's people came from Sudan and her mother's from Africa," as if Sudan were not in Africa. Later Halberstam points out that after Martin Luther King's assassination, there was no one left in the movement who could "reign in" (sic) the irascible James Bevel. In addition to many errors of this kind, there are countless tiny lapses: quotation marks and parentheses that do not close, missing periods, etc. AU of this, in the end, makes The Children a sloppy telling of a great story. One wonders where the proofreader was. (WJ) The Short History ofa Prince by Jane Hamilton Random House, 1998, 349 pp., $23 Walter McCloud yearns to belong to the competitive world of classical ballet. He's a great dancer in his mind, heart and soul. Unfortunately, all the passion in the world will not make up for his physical shortcomings : spindly legs, nearly flat 204 ยท The Missouri Review feet, knobby knees, a body that completely lacks the graceful lines of the classical ideal. His greatest dancing achievement is performing the role of the prince in a Rockford, Illinois, community production of The Nutcracker , while his naturally talented best friends, Susan and Mitch, dance in a prestigious Chicago version of the same ballet. Alternating between Walter's adult and childhood voices, Jane Hamilton's generous, tender novel The Short History ofa Princetells of the heartache of being second best, whether at dancing or at living. As if childhood disappointment in his limited talent were not enough, Walter's olderbrother, Daniel, a champion swimmer, is dying of cancer. Susan, attracted by the drama of the dying boy, falls in love with him. She neglects her friendship with Walter and without explanation stops seeing Mitch, uniting Mitch and Walter in anger. Walter wants Mitch's affection more than he wants to dance with the New York City Ballet, and, for a brief time anyway, he receives it. Walter's adult life is as unsatisfying as his childhood. After years in New York City, working at a dollhouse shop selling miniature furniture and flitting from one meaningless relationship...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1548-9930
Print ISSN
0191-1961
Pages
pp. 204-205
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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