A Wider World (Magill's Literary Annual 1987)
Kate Simon is best known as a travel writer, author of many popular guidebooks. Readers in the future, however, will probably know her as the author of an exceptionally vivid serial autobiography. In this sequel to the first installment of her autobiography, Bronx Primitive: Portraits in a Childhood (1982), Simon captures the pleasures and the pains, the atmosphere and the ambience of a young girl’s struggle to establish her own identity during the Depression, a period that in no way depresses her spirit of adventure and inquiry. Her experiences are presented vividly and in great detail and are organized by category: high school, men, other people’s children, adventures in Harlem, interesting women, sex, college experiences, summer vacations, experiences with the rich, and finally, the seamy and illegal side of life.
Simon’s wry and witty account of her life and times is both specific and universal. Not unlike Huck Finn, she discovers new lands to explore and, in the process, replaces naïveté and innocence with strength and wisdom. These vivid recollections, each separate but connected by the strong thread of the narrator’s personality, begin when Kate, at thirteen-and-a-half, battles with her father for the right to go to high school, a battle that marks the beginning of her struggle to be her own person. Her drive to become independent provides continuity throughout the book. Like adolescents everywhere, Kate turns from her parents to...
(The entire section is 1494 words.)
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Bibliography (Magill's Literary Annual 1987)
Booklist. LXXXII, February 1, 1986, p. 790.
Kirkus Reviews. LIII, December 15, 1985, p. 1388.
Library Journal. CXI, February 15, 1986, p. 177.
The New York Times Book Review. XCI, February 23, 1986, p. 1.
Publishers Weekly. CCXXIX, January 10, 1986, p. 78.
Time. CXXVII, February 24, 1986, p. 73.
USA Today. IV, February 28, 1986, p. 4D.
Washington Post Book World. XVI, March 9, 1986, p. 5.
Wilson Library Bulletin. LX, May, 1986, p. 71.
(The entire section is 51 words.)