Dolorous yet exhilarating dispatches from the edge.



Palahniuk takes a break from his pitch-black, apocalyptic fiction (Diary, 2003, etc.) and spins a few yarns about real people—some not insane or suffering from a debilitating illness.

Unlike his novels, in which the human race is repeatedly pulverized for its conformity, groupthink, and general blankness, this collection of short nonfictions done for various magazines suggests that Palahniuk actually likes humanity—or at least some parts of it. This doesn’t mean he’s content with gentle sketches of quiet people who may be extraordinary in some understated, concerned, NPR kind of way. You’re more likely to find the author watching the sad spectacle of wannabe screenwriters paying for the privilege of pitching their little hearts out in a hotel ballroom to low-level movie producers (“This is something they’ve lugged around their whole life, and now they’re here to see what it will fetch on the open market”), or hanging out reading Tarot cards with Marilyn Manson. There isn’t much in the way of transcendent prose here; much of the time Palahniuk produces perfectly serviceable, high-grade magazine pieces, funny recollections of his Fight Club–era stint in Hollywood and so on, which keep readers flipping pages but won’t make it into any best-of-year anthologies. There are some powerful exceptions, though, like the short, bracing “Escort”: here, the author describes his stint as a hospice volunteer and says more in five pages about death than most novelists do in their entire careers. While every author hopes to connect with people through writing, most want the work itself to touch someone. Palahniuk aims his desire to connect in a different direction: he wants his writing to bring him into contact with humanity through the research that he does and the stories he uncovers along the way. Thus, “even the lonely act of writing becomes an excuse to be around people.”

Dolorous yet exhilarating dispatches from the edge.

Pub Date: June 15, 2004

ISBN: 0-385-50448-9

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2004

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...



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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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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