THE DEVIL'S BOX

MASTERS OF SOUTHERN FIDDLING

Knowledgeable but occasionally arcane collection of essays celebrating the Golden Age of ``old-time'' southern fiddling (192555). Old-time fiddling has an honored place in American culture and history: The industrialist Henry Ford recognized this and marshaled his resources to spark a revival of the art and to promote traditional values. Wolfe (coauthor, The Life and Legend of Leadbelly, 1992) originally published most of these essays in The Devil's Box, a magazine about old-time fiddling. (The fiddle was sometimes called the devil's box, Wolfe notes, ``because some thought it was sinful to play one.'') Like the magazine, this book caters to those with a substantial interest and knowledge in the field. Most of the essays take a scholarly approach to such things as discographies of unreleased ``sides'' by classic fiddlers or resolving the composition credit for ``The Black Mountain Rag.'' Those already familiar with fiddling giants such as Eck Robertson, Uncle Jimmy Thompson, Fiddlin' Powers, Doc Roberts, Clayton McMichen, Bob Wills, and Arthur Smith will find the level of detail satisfying; others, especially nonfiddlers, may feel awash in facts. However, there are revealing anecdotes throughout: Arthur Smith, for instance, once showed up for a photo session for the Grand Ole Opry in a suit and was forced to change into rural clothes (a more appropriate look, it was thought, for a country musician) and pose in a pigpen. The idiosyncratic Smith also once dynamited a fishing hole to guarantee himself a good catch. The great Clark Kessinger learned a few chops from the classical violinist Szigeti. Fiddling contests, the history of the Opry, and the early days of recorded country music are well covered. The collection provides a valuable storehouse of fiddling history, but copious research is generally undistilled. Not for the layperson. (13 b&w photos, not seen)

Pub Date: April 1, 1997

ISBN: 0-8265-1283-6

Page Count: 258

Publisher: Vanderbilt Univ. Press

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1997

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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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