The best works of the year, cherry-picked and suitably delicious. The only quibble: Of 17 writers featured, only three are...


Uniformly excellent collection of the winners and finalists of this year's National Magazine Awards.

For fans of the contemporary essay, 2005, as represented by this collection, was a very good year; ASME's selections are stellar. Predictably, much of the work singled out for recognition could be described as “muscular” journalism, concerned with the American justice system, international conflict, sports, the space program. A particularly searing pair were both published in the New Yorker: Seymour Hersh's painful “Torture at Abu Ghraib” and Samantha Powers's “Dying in Darfur.” American injustice is highlighted in “Innocence Lost,” by Nina Martin, for San Francisco Magazine, and “The Wronged Man,” by Andrew Corsello, for GQ, about the 20-year imprisonment of an innocent man and the roadblocks thrown up by the court system as he worked toward freedom. The scientific sphere is covered by “Home,” published in Esquire, in which Chris Jones writes powerfully of the astronauts who were nearly stranded in space after the explosion of the space shuttle Columbia. Stem-cell research is addressed by James McManus in “Please Stand by While the Age of Miracles Is Briefly Suspended,” for Esquire. New York City gets the nod in Adam Gopnik's “Times Regained,” his thoughts on Times Square, for the New Yorker, and Jed Perl's “Modern Immaturity,” a critique of the new Museum of Modern Art, for The New Republic. There are profiles of two very different men, both equally possessed by their calling: Ned Zeman's “The Man Who Loved Grizzlies,” for Vanity Fair, covers the life and death of Timothy Treadwell, the man who lived among bears in Alaska, and Ian Parker's “The Gift,” for the New Yorker, centers on Zell Kravinsky, a man who wants to give away everything he has, including unnecessary bodily organs.

The best works of the year, cherry-picked and suitably delicious. The only quibble: Of 17 writers featured, only three are female.

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2005

ISBN: 0-231-13781-8

Page Count: 544

Publisher: Columbia Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2005

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...



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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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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