NELLIE BLY

DAREDEVIL, REPORTER, FEMINIST

A meticulously researched, consistently entertaining biography of the legendary turn-of-the-century journalist whose true adventures far outstripped the boundaries of myth. For this first full-scale treatment of Bly, former United Press International reporter Kroeger reaches through a web of half- truths (many courtesy of the subject herself) and scanty facts to uncover the complex path of ``a life not so much lived as waged.'' Born near Pittsburgh in 1864, Elizabeth Jane Cochran began her career with an extraordinary stroke of luck—the editor of The Pittsburgh Dispatch, fascinated by her spirited letter rebuking a columnist who urged women to stay at home, gave the untrained 20- year-old a position and, in the fashion of the day, a catchy life- long pseudonym. But it was her own initiative that secured lasting fame. Deciding to scale the walls of newspaper capital New York, with her sights set on Joseph Pulitzer's splashy The World, Bly quickly became a leading investigative reporter in a business still largely closed to women. National celebrity came with an effort to better Jules Verne's fictional Phileas Fogg by going around the world in 75 days. Her relentlessly self-referential but charming and uninhibited style made Bly, in Kroeger's estimation, perhaps the first ``gonzo'' journalist. Reborn as an enlightened manufacturer after a curious elopement with a millionaire industrialist 40 years her senior, Bly mastered technology sufficiently to pick up 25 patents in her own name. Financial ruin drew the now-widowed Bly to Austria to report from the front lines of WW I, and a final foray into New York journalism, just prior to her death at 57, cast Bly as a passionate advocate for downtrodden women and children. While skillfully conveying the outlines of an astounding life, Kroeger, hampered by a lack of intimate detail, never manages to make Bly a fully three-dimensional character- -although, as she amply demonstrates, four or five dimensions would seem more appropriate. Inspiring reading for those searching out a feminist role model—or just a breathless ride through an incredible life. (16 pages of b&w photographs—not seen)

Pub Date: March 1, 1994

ISBN: 0-8129-1973-4

Page Count: 544

Publisher: Times/Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 1994

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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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