A moving, hopeful book, but one that occasionally feels more like a therapeutic exercise than a complete work.

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RED FLOWER DAYS

STEPPING OUT OF THE DARK

In this debut memoir, a child abuse survivor recounts how she coped with the flood of intrusive memories that forced her to relive her painful past.

Buchhammer was a happily married young mother when disturbing memories began invading her thoughts. The first was of her stepfather Holger—a high-ranking officer in the East German military—crushing the head of a kitten and warning her, “This is what I will do to you if you tell anyone our secret.” More vivid and upsetting recollections soon followed, forcing Astrid to revisit the sexual abuse she suffered at the hands of Holger and other pedophiles. Her mother, herself a victim of Holger’s violence, was unable to stop the abuse, and the authority figures she turned to for help betrayed her. Decades later, flashbacks to these events left her virtually incapacitated. Only with the help of a patient, understanding therapist and her supportive husband, Thomas, was Buchhammer able to begin to live again. Drawing on unvarnished memories and using simple, direct language, she shows the ways abusers use power to control their victims, as well as how a community that looks the other way can allow abuse to continue. She doesn’t hesitate to share the most graphic details of her experiences, and many may find these brutal passages difficult to get through. However, the barrage of horrors is mitigated by the alternation of chapters set in the past (which offer a fascinating window into East German life in the 1970s and ’80s) with those set in the present. The primary focus throughout is naturally on Buchhammer, particularly the heartbreaking isolation and fear she experienced as a child. Except for Holger, the other characters remain ciphers. Buchhammer offers few theories about her mother’s relationship with Holger or why she endured the years of torment at his hands. The years between Buchhammer’s decision to leave home as a teen and her life nearly two decades later are also frustratingly blank. The central theme is instead her successful and inspiring refusal to let her horrifying childhood destroy her present happiness.

A moving, hopeful book, but one that occasionally feels more like a therapeutic exercise than a complete work.

Pub Date: Nov. 16, 2014

ISBN: 978-0692332849

Page Count: 292

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Jan. 7, 2015

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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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