Xpress Reviews: Nonfiction | First Look at New Books, March 21, 2014

Week ending March 21, 2014

starred review starEllis, Kristina. Confessions of a Scholarship Winner: The Secrets That Helped Me Win $500,000 in Free Money for College; How You Can Too! Worthy. 2013. 224p. ISBN 9781617951572. pap. $14.99; ebk. ISBN 9781617951725. ED
confessionsscholarship032114Scholarship recipient Ellis used sheer determination, methodical approaches, and organized efforts to secure more than half a million dollars in grants that funded her undergraduate and graduate education at private universities. This breezy, upbeat, and detailed account will help high school and college students better understand and maneuver through the intricacies of the financial aid process and avoid or reduce the amount of student loan debt necessary to attend college. Each chapter includes summary points and action steps to take. The most valuable parts of the book relate to preparing powerful and successful scholarship applications—one segment is devoted to sample essays written by Coca-Cola Scholars, for example—and rehearsing for personal interviews associated with the award process. The author’s own life story is compelling, but it is clear that every student’s challenges and triumphs can be framed to appeal to financial aid providers. Ellis’s advice would be useful, too, to students vying for competitive awards such as the Fulbright.
Verdict Highly recommended for readers interested in securing significant college scholarships and for library collections with a focus on financial aid and higher education.—Elizabeth Connor, Daniel Lib. at The Citadel, Military Coll. of South Carolina, Charleston

Hoyle, Arthur. The Unknown Henry Miller: A Seeker in Big Sur. Arcade. 2014. 416p. ISBN 9781611458992. $27.95; ebk. ISBN 9781628724011. LIT
First time author Hoyle seeks to reverse the long-standing trend in American literary studies of ignoring the achievements of Henry Miller (1891–1980), whom the author considers one of the most important writers of the 20th century. As part of his research, Hoyle sent a questionnaire to various U.S. campuses. The discouraging findings of this survey showed that very few English departments assign Miller’s writing to their students. To rectify this situation, Hoyle has written an admiring biography of the novelist, who turned the events and people of his life into fiction. Unlike traditional biographies in which opening chapters deal with the subject’s family and milieu, Hoyle begins with Miller in Paris in the 1930s, with flashbacks to the novelist’s early years (hence the “unknown” of the title). The biographer quotes extensively from his subject’s letters and other documents, as well as from Miller’s family, friends, and critics. Emphasized here is Miller’s residence in California, which satisfied the author at first but with which he grew disenchanted as he got older. Miller’s relations with publishers, both American and foreign, and his lifelong struggle to combat the censorship of his major works are extensively chronicled here. The biographer’s fascination with the author and his works is admirable, but one wishes that Hoyle had taken a more traditional and/or critical approach to the subject. Katy Masuga’s Henry Miller and How He Got That Way is a recent study that looks at Miller by focusing on the influences that made him the writer he became.
Verdict Mainly for devotees and fans of Miller and his works.—Morris Hounion, New York City Coll. of Technology, Brooklyn