A courageous account of a challenging life that ultimately becomes an exhausting read.

READ REVIEW

WRITING AND MADNESS IN A TIME OF TERROR

A MEMOIR

A woman forced to flee Iran with her family battles lifelong mental illness, racism, and sexual abuse in this debut memoir.

When Iran descended into violent revolution, debut author Majidi’s family, which had close ties to the shah, was compelled to escape to New Jersey. The clan was plunged into turmoil—her siblings turned angry and reckless, her mother sought comfort in alcohol, and her father plummeted into a deep depression. In addition to financial hardship—her family’s savings was marooned in Iran—Majidi also weathered social and cultural isolation. She scored some measure of solace in academic achievement in high school, but she was plagued by a pendulum swing between anxiety and depression and fell into an abusive relationship with a possessive 19-year-old man. She went to Barnard College and later earned an MFA in writing from the New School, discovering a love of literature and creative production. But she was repeatedly victimized by craven men and raped by two colleagues while she worked for Rolling Stone magazine. Majidi pressed charges, but she was never quite taken seriously by the authorities, and it became increasingly clear that justice would never be delivered. The author fell in love with her married writing instructor, James, and when he turned his back on her, she obsessively stalked him for years and sent him thousands of emails. She became engulfed by paranoid delusions, convinced her novel had been stolen for politically conspiratorial purposes and was somehow responsible for fomenting tumult in Iran and that her home was filled with poisonous gas. The author bravely explores three explosive issues—mental illness, racism, and misogyny—with bracing candor. In addition, she provides an engrossing and timely look at the way women of color are doubly objectified, as exotic sexual quarry and as individuals worthy of contempt. But her ambitious account should have been pared down considerably—Majidi buries readers under an accumulation of autobiographical facts that eventually turn into a cumbrous weight. Finally, readers be warned: This is not a story of inspiring redemption—it begins and ends with acid bitterness.

A courageous account of a challenging life that ultimately becomes an exhausting read.

Pub Date: Dec. 6, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-973484-17-2

Page Count: 335

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Jan. 24, 2018

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Analyzing his craft, a careful craftsman urges with Thoreauvian conviction that writers should simplify, simplify, simplify.

SEVERAL SHORT SENTENCES ABOUT WRITING

New York Times columnist and editorial board member delivers a slim book for aspiring writers, offering saws and sense, wisdom and waggery, biases and biting sarcasm.

Klinkenborg (Timothy; or, Notes of an Abject Reptile, 2006), who’s taught for decades, endeavors to keep things simple in his prose, and he urges other writers to do the same. (Note: He despises abuses of the word as, as he continually reminds readers.) In the early sections, the author ignores traditional paragraphing so that the text resembles a long free-verse poem. He urges readers to use short, clear sentences and to make sure each one is healthy before moving on; notes that it’s acceptable to start sentences with and and but; sees benefits in diagramming sentences; stresses that all writing is revision; periodically blasts the formulaic writing that many (most?) students learn in school; argues that knowing where you’re headed before you begin might be good for a vacation, but not for a piece of writing; and believes that writers must trust readers more, and trust themselves. Most of Klinkenborg’s advice is neither radical nor especially profound (“Turn to the poets. / Learn from them”), and the text suffers from a corrosive fallacy: that if his strategies work for him they will work for all. The final fifth of the text includes some passages from writers he admires (McPhee, Oates, Cheever) and some of his students’ awkward sentences, which he treats analytically but sometimes with a surprising sarcasm that veers near meanness. He includes examples of students’ dangling modifiers, malapropisms, errors of pronoun agreement, wordiness and other mistakes.

Analyzing his craft, a careful craftsman urges with Thoreauvian conviction that writers should simplify, simplify, simplify.

Pub Date: Aug. 7, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-307-26634-7

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2012

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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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