A forthcoming but ultimately disappointing tale of a writer’s path to mental health.

If Only The Names Were Changed

A memoir that recounts a life of chemical dependency and emotional tumult.

Miller’s (You Must Know This, 2016, etc.) second book is an unflinching confessional that candidly discusses his wrenching personal trials. Essentially an assemblage of essays, it eschews a linear chronology for something more peripatetic; the author freely roams from subject to subject, often slipping into a highly stylized, almost poetic discursiveness. Miller delves into such topics as his fraught relationship with an authoritarian father, his struggles with alcohol and drug abuse, his monthlong stint in a county jail, and his antipathy for religion. Along the way, he generously peppers his anecdotes with diverse literary references to authors such as Karl Marx, Julio Cortázar, Walt Whitman, and Dave Eggers. These are rarely plumbed deeply, however, so they remain merely references rather than points of illustrative intellectual departure. Miller is at his best when mixing unabashed candor with analytical self-scrutiny; for example, his discussion of his history of erotic adventurism with emotionally wounded women is both fascinating and unsettling. Also, Miller’s treatment of fatherhood, and of his newest relationship after two failed marriages, flirts with a theory of redemption. However, he often stops well short of analysis in favor of undisciplined venting: “I fucking hate the whole system of authority we humans have put in place. And by we, what I mean is white-European-males. The particular group of assholes to which I belong; though I wish I didn’t.” The prose is often gratuitously fractured, as if meant to parallel the author’s rage-filled disorientation. However, this device is neither new nor very artfully executed. The opening chapter contains a thoughtful, if derivative, reflection on the relationship between autobiography and shame. Indeed, Miller is to be commended for the courage with which he willingly exposes his life in order to capture some sliver of truth. However, this in itself won’t likely satisfy readers looking for something of greater substance.

A forthcoming but ultimately disappointing tale of a writer’s path to mental health.

Pub Date: June 26, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-937865-70-2

Page Count: 186

Publisher: Civil Coping Mechanisms

Review Posted Online: Sept. 7, 2016

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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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MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. AND THE MARCH ON WASHINGTON

This early reader is an excellent introduction to the March on Washington in 1963 and the important role in the march played by Martin Luther King Jr. Ruffin gives the book a good, dramatic start: “August 28, 1963. It is a hot summer day in Washington, D.C. More than 250,00 people are pouring into the city.” They have come to protest the treatment of African-Americans here in the US. With stirring original artwork mixed with photographs of the events (and the segregationist policies in the South, such as separate drinking fountains and entrances to public buildings), Ruffin writes of how an end to slavery didn’t mark true equality and that these rights had to be fought for—through marches and sit-ins and words, particularly those of Dr. King, and particularly on that fateful day in Washington. Within a year the Civil Rights Act of 1964 had been passed: “It does not change everything. But it is a beginning.” Lots of visual cues will help new readers through the fairly simple text, but it is the power of the story that will keep them turning the pages. (Easy reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-448-42421-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2000

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