Essays that are uneven in quality but unrelenting in their frank, even painful, descriptions and assessments of one of...

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VOICES FROM THE RUST BELT

An assortment of essays by writers who stand on various autobiographical elevations to view America’s Rust Belt.

Several writers—including editor Trubek (The History and Uncertain Future of Handwriting, 2016, etc.), the founder and director of Belt Publishing—discuss the origin of the term Rust Belt, tracing it to Walter Mondale in 1984. However, the concern of these essayists is not so much with the term itself as with the social, economic, and personal elements of the Belt. Trubek has assembled an impressively diverse array of voices, including men, women, gay, straight, black, white, Christian, Jewish, Muslim, and others. Some are professional writers, journalists, historians, teachers, and editors; some are public officials; some are people who have grown up in such Rust Belt communities as Cleveland, Akron, Buffalo, Detroit, and Flint. Some voices are bitter, even angry. Black historian and urban planner Henry Louis Taylor Jr. discusses Buffalo’s “hipster, latte-drinking whites” and a “city being re-created for whites.” Other writers are bitter about the disproportionate poverty in cities, poor schools and public services, drug abuse and violence, heartless coal companies, and city governments that allow retailers to abandon buildings. But currents of hope also flow throughout. One writer tells about public gardens and community restoration, and another urges Rust Belt residents to move on—not by forgetting but by crafting new ideas of community and progress. Others try to understand the historical and cultural forces that have created the Belt. The essays vary widely in quality; a glance at the notes on the contributors helps explain why: not everyone here is a “professional” writer. Regardless, it seems almost churlish to complain about the quality of a voice that is telling you something significant, something you really ought to know—and need to understand.

Essays that are uneven in quality but unrelenting in their frank, even painful, descriptions and assessments of one of America’s most devastated lands.

Pub Date: April 3, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-250-16297-7

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Picador

Review Posted Online: Jan. 23, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2018

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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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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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