Times of Surrender: Selected Essays

Robert Coles, Author University of Iowa Press $28 (292p) ISBN 978-0-87745-188-4
Coles's essays reflect his committed concerns: therapeutic work with children, civil rights, the ethical dimension of medicine. Talking to a six-year-old Southern black girl who defied a white mob and desegregated her school, the Harvard professor of psychiatry ponders the value of storytelling as a way to help children become active, thinking people. He advocates the teaching of novels and poems in medical school, then examines Chekhov as a spiritual diagnostician. More than half of the pieces gathered here are book reviews, but Coles (Children of Crisis) uses them as a platform to discuss such matters as Eskimos' respect for privacy and Thomas Merton's religious quest. The writing is frequently woolly and pontificating, at other times succinct and bracing. Coles has a knack for analyzing his subjects' flaws, as when he mocks B. F. Skinner's vague boasts about his parents' social status, or skewers LeRoi Jones's romantic portrayal of black heroin use. (May)
Reviewed on: 04/25/1988
Release date: 05/01/1988
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