An intriguing but somewhat confusing behavioral treatise.



An exploration of how people fall into patterns of blaming, and strategies for combating that tendency.

Finding fault in others for one’s problems might be a common behavior, but it’s not an unavoidable one, as debut author Schachtel demonstrates through his analysis of blaming behaviors. The cognitive behavioral therapist identifies “six constructs…that intensify blaming,” including “Look How Important I Am,” or exaggerated self-confidence; “Comparisons,” in which one blames others so that one can feel “successful”;  “Work Place Environment,” in which one is driven by a desire to appear competent; “Loss and Grief,” which can foster guilt and self-blame; “Let’s Pray About It,” in which one uses religion to find a culprit for negative outcomes; and “Maybe Later,” in which one avoids blame through procrastination. He also identifies four types of blamers; for example, the “calculating” type is ruthless about shifting responsibility onto others, while the “whatever” type passively assumes that other people will solve problems for them. The diagrams and illustrations here seem intended to elucidate the author’s concepts, but they sometimes create more confusion than clarity. More useful is Schachtel’s suggestion that readers keep a log of their own thoughts, in order to uncover one’s “attitudes, behavior, and excuses” related to shifting responsibility. Overall, the author is engaged in a noble project—to get people to stop blaming others and take back control of their own lives. But this slim effort, which is fewer than 200 pages long, doesn’t succeed at fully explaining why people are prone to such behavior. The intended audience also isn’t very clear, with some examples involving workplaces and others focusing on marriages.

An intriguing but somewhat confusing behavioral treatise.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-62901-560-6

Page Count: 174

Publisher: Inkwater Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 12, 2019

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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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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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