REMEMBERED RAPTURE

THE WRITER AT WORK

A moving testimony to passion for the written word, and to the inherent difficulties of becoming a purveyor of both language and ideas. Cultural critic, memoirist (Wound of Passion: A Writing Life, 1997), and professor of English (City Coll.) hooks’s love of language has spurred her to explore various genres and match content to form in a way that most academics do not. “Any writer” she says, “who strives to be true to artistic integrity surrenders to the shape the work takes of its own accord.” In Remembered Rapture, her 17th book, she again resists categorization, fusing autobiography with cultural essay, refracting a larger social dynamic through the prism of her experience as a writer who also happens to be a black woman. She reveals her own story in order to make points about creativity, publishing, criticism—even the intersection of spirituality and politics. The word “rapture” speaks to the reality of writing as a solitary meditation: “In that moment of grace when the words come, when I surrender to their ecstatic power, there is no witness,” she says. Except that hooks expertly witnesses her own process. This volume functions not only as a testament to the importance of creative expression, but also as a commentary on the prevailing market forces that determine the viability of that work. And hooks, in her usual, forthright and engaging style, makes plain her opinions: on the dearth of nonfiction by black women authors, the role of race in the critical reception of new work, and the cynicism of the publishing industry. What could have been a caustic, scathing collection of essays, however, proves to be just the opposite: generous, open, and inspiring. Not every essay here offers that visceral jolt of critical insight, but then hooks is writing about the creative process as much as the state of publishing; her success lies in her ability to transmit the joy of writing well. And she does. (Author tour)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-8050-5909-1

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 1998

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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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