It won’t take the place of Strunk and White, but a useful addition to any writer’s bookshelf.

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HOW TO NOT WRITE BAD

THE MOST COMMON WRITING PROBLEMS AND THE BEST WAYS TO AVOID THEM

A forgiving—a purist might say overly forgiving—handbook for those in need of remedial grammar lessons, a category that includes most college students.

Yagoda (Journalism/Univ. of Delaware; Memoir: A History, 2010, etc.) appreciates the Anne Lamotts, William Zinssers and E.B. Whites of the world, but he fears that their entreaties to add beauty to the language are misplaced. “Most students, I’ve found, can’t handle writing ‘well.’ At this point in their writing lives,” he writes, “that goal is simply too ambitious.” He later elaborates: The chief task is to rid students of such bad habits as stacked prepositional phrases and dysparallelism. Thus this handbook and its grating title: The goal is not to write well, but not to write badly—or, now that we don’t have to worry about split infinitives, to not write badly. Yagoda strives a little too hard for laughs at times, but showmanship is part of the game. Much of what he has to say is the stuff of every other writing handbook, especially the admonition that every good writer—every not-bad writer, that is—is a good reader. But Yagoda occasionally turns in a truly fresh take on a problem, and this dictum alone is worth the price of admission: “When possible, make the subject of a sentence a person, a collection of persons, or a thing.” Pair that with the injunction to avoid two spaces after a period, and you’ve got the makings of improved writing already, even allowing for Yagoda’s liberal take on split infinitives and the use of “they” as the pronoun for a singular subject.

It won’t take the place of Strunk and White, but a useful addition to any writer’s bookshelf.

Pub Date: Feb. 5, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-59448-848-1

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: Jan. 6, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2013

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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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WHAT A WONDERFUL WORLD

A LIFETIME OF RECORDINGS

Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)

Pub Date: May 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-19-508629-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1995

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