Will resonate for former expats, and wannabes may pick up some useful tips.

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EXPAT

WOMEN’S TRUE TALES OF LIFE ABROAD

Often amusing, sometimes disconcerting reminiscences from 22 American women who uprooted themselves to live at least temporarily in a foreign country.

Many set off hoping to shake too-comfortable habits and the confining expectations of life at home, often jump-starting unexplored talents and inner resources as a result. From Belfast to Belize, with stops in South America, Australia, and Ukraine, these travelers report on the challenges of new language, new customs, new smells and tastes, new biases. Some of them tried to fit in. Medical worker Meg Wirth, tall and “white as a ghost” in Borneo, couldn’t hide her height in a land of small, dark people, but tried to disguise her pale skin under an umbrella. Some couldn’t fit. Small, dark Angeli Primlani, fleeing domestic violence in her small southern town, moved to Prague, where she was ostracized and spit on because she looked suspiciously like a gypsy. For Kate Baldus, a hard-to-find blanket was her talisman against both the chill and the strangeness of Bangladesh. Other adventurers describe fending off bouts of homesickness with food: a disastrous home-cooked Thanksgiving meal in France, a Jewish seder in Japan, an attempt to re-create Mom’s rosemary chicken with a live bird and a balky toaster oven in China. Funniest perhaps is Rhiannon Paine’s wry take on adapting American ways and language to life in Liverpool, England. Many of these wanderers subsidized their new lives as teachers of English. Some were exploring family connections; a few had romantic visions, like Marci Laughlin coming to Greece in search of Zorba. (Lonely and unable to adapt, she never did dance on the beach.) For most, what turned an often-daunting experiment into success was, as hackneyed as it sounds, a sense of humor and friends who accepted them at face value and tolerated their fumbling attempts at speaking the language.

Will resonate for former expats, and wannabes may pick up some useful tips.

Pub Date: July 1, 2002

ISBN: 1-58005-070-0

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Seal Press

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2002

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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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Analyzing his craft, a careful craftsman urges with Thoreauvian conviction that writers should simplify, simplify, simplify.

SEVERAL SHORT SENTENCES ABOUT WRITING

New York Times columnist and editorial board member delivers a slim book for aspiring writers, offering saws and sense, wisdom and waggery, biases and biting sarcasm.

Klinkenborg (Timothy; or, Notes of an Abject Reptile, 2006), who’s taught for decades, endeavors to keep things simple in his prose, and he urges other writers to do the same. (Note: He despises abuses of the word as, as he continually reminds readers.) In the early sections, the author ignores traditional paragraphing so that the text resembles a long free-verse poem. He urges readers to use short, clear sentences and to make sure each one is healthy before moving on; notes that it’s acceptable to start sentences with and and but; sees benefits in diagramming sentences; stresses that all writing is revision; periodically blasts the formulaic writing that many (most?) students learn in school; argues that knowing where you’re headed before you begin might be good for a vacation, but not for a piece of writing; and believes that writers must trust readers more, and trust themselves. Most of Klinkenborg’s advice is neither radical nor especially profound (“Turn to the poets. / Learn from them”), and the text suffers from a corrosive fallacy: that if his strategies work for him they will work for all. The final fifth of the text includes some passages from writers he admires (McPhee, Oates, Cheever) and some of his students’ awkward sentences, which he treats analytically but sometimes with a surprising sarcasm that veers near meanness. He includes examples of students’ dangling modifiers, malapropisms, errors of pronoun agreement, wordiness and other mistakes.

Analyzing his craft, a careful craftsman urges with Thoreauvian conviction that writers should simplify, simplify, simplify.

Pub Date: Aug. 7, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-307-26634-7

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2012

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