A highly intelligent book, but one destined for Oz completeists and Agnon scholars.

THE SILENCE OF HEAVEN

AGNON'S FEAR OF GOD

Four essays on Nobel laureate S.Y. Agnon by the Israeli novelist Oz (The Story Begins, 1999, etc.), who may well be his greatest living heir.

At the outset, Oz readily and gratefully acknowledges Agnon as ``one of my literary mentors.'' The essays in this volume, three of which have never before appeared in English, trace the development of what Oz believes to be the core theme in Agnon's work, namely, the irrevocable collapse of the system of traditional Jewish belief and its disastrous implications for the men and women who have come to live in Israel, acting out of their belief in either Zionism or Judaism (or both). ``There is no way back,'' Oz solemnly intones early on, from the tormented contradictions that have made such a collapse inevitable. Following a general introductory essay, originally delivered as a speech in honor of the older author, Oz offers essays on ``Tehilah,'' one of Agnon's most poignant stories, and on the novels A Simple Story and Only Yesterday (whose first Englishlanguage translation is being published simultaneously with this volume). Oz writes with a simplicity, clarity, and passion that are all too often missing from academic literary criticism these days. Unfortunately, as the author himself acknowledges, these essays are meant to be read in tandem with the works they analyze and, for those unfamiliar with the Agnon oeuvre, they will often be baffling, even infuriatingly so. Like her work on Only Yesterday (see p.316), Harshav's translation is exemplary.

A highly intelligent book, but one destined for Oz completeists and Agnon scholars.

Pub Date: May 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-691-03692-6

Page Count: -

Publisher: Princeton Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2000

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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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