RIMBAUD IN ABYSSINIA

By age 20, when he mysteriously renounced his poetic career without publishing a single volume, Rimbaud had created a body of poetry that many still consider perfect; at age 27, after a brief life of wandering in Europe, he went to North Africa, where he amassed a small fortune in trading guns and coffee. At the same age, though a century later, Borer, a French Rimbaud specialist, accompanied by a TV crew filming a documentary of Rimbaud's last ten years, followed Rimbaud's footsteps—producing along with the film this fascinating, bewildering, and innovative study. Joining the great array of ``Rimbaudians,'' as Borer calls them—the many writers, from the poet's own sister to Enid Starkie and Henry Miller, whom Rimbaud inspired—Borer explores the puzzles and eccentricities of Rimbaud: his fascination with evil; his sensuality; his iconoclasm and rage; his experiments with drugs, love, religion; his restlessness; his crimes—he had a police record in every country he visited and provoked Paul Verlaine, his lover whom he tortured with knives, into shooting him. Despising convention, courtesy, morality (``a weakness of the brain''), glorifying evil and excess, Rimbaud became a permanent symbol of adolescent rebellion before literally escaping from his own identity as the ``visionary'' that he described in the one book he published during his life, an autobiography of his own mind called A Season in Hell. Borer searches for the vestiges of this identity in the adventurer-entrepreneur Rimbaud became—and, in the process, finds the poet in himself. An odd combination of Rimbaud himself, his words and his experiments with form, and the assertive, fragmentary style of the TV documentary on which the book is based—a very challenging read for those uninitiated in Rimbaud and ``Rimbaudrary.'' The translation must have been a trial: What to make of ``his bulimia for reading remained unsated''?

Pub Date: Nov. 22, 1991

ISBN: 0-688-07594-0

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 1991

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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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DEAR MR. HENSHAW

Possibly inspired by the letters Cleary has received as a children's author, this begins with second-grader Leigh Botts' misspelled fan letter to Mr. Henshaw, whose fictitious book itself derives from the old take-off title Forty Ways W. Amuse a Dog. Soon Leigh is in sixth grade and bombarding his still-favorite author with a list of questions to be answered and returned by "next Friday," the day his author report is due. Leigh is disgruntled when Mr. Henshaw's answer comes late, and accompanied by a set of questions for Leigh to answer. He threatens not to, but as "Mom keeps nagging me about your dumb old questions" he finally gets the job done—and through his answers Mr. Henshaw and readers learn that Leigh considers himself "the mediumest boy in school," that his parents have split up, and that he dreams of his truck-driver dad driving him to school "hauling a forty-foot reefer, which would make his outfit add up to eighteen wheels altogether. . . . I guess I wouldn't seem so medium then." Soon Mr. Henshaw recommends keeping a diary (at least partly to get Leigh off his own back) and so the real letters to Mr. Henshaw taper off, with "pretend," unmailed letters (the diary) taking over. . . until Leigh can write "I don't have to pretend to write to Mr. Henshaw anymore. I have learned to say what I think on a piece of paper." Meanwhile Mr. Henshaw offers writing tips, and Leigh, struggling with a story for a school contest, concludes "I think you're right. Maybe I am not ready to write a story." Instead he writes a "true story" about a truck haul with his father in Leigh's real past, and this wins praise from "a real live author" Leigh meets through the school program. Mr. Henshaw has also advised that "a character in a story should solve a problem or change in some way," a standard juvenile-fiction dictum which Cleary herself applies modestly by having Leigh solve his disappearing lunch problem with a burglar-alarmed lunch box—and, more seriously, come to recognize and accept that his father can't be counted on. All of this, in Leigh's simple words, is capably and unobtrusively structured as well as valid and realistic. From the writing tips to the divorced-kid blues, however, it tends to substitute prevailing wisdom for the little jolts of recognition that made the Ramona books so rewarding.

Pub Date: Aug. 22, 1983

ISBN: 143511096X

Page Count: 133

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 16, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1983

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