A frank, sometimes-disturbing debut novel that highlights the darkness that can lurk within picture-perfect families.

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Shhhh!

SAD, SHOCKING AND SEXY

A childhood defined by physical and sexual abuse leads to a tumultuous adolescence in Flook’s self-described “true-life novel.”

Annalyn is the second child of her father’s second marriage. Her mother, once a maid, had married up into a well-off Southern family; as a parent, she’s cold, withholding, and physically abusive, obsessed with keeping up appearances in their conservative 1950s community. Annalyn’s 50-something father is distant and largely uninvolved in his children’s lives. As a result, she receives little affection from either parent. Initially, her grandmother’s home offers a welcome refuge from the cruelty at home, but then a slightly older female relative (herself a victim of sexual abuse) starts abusing Annalyn on her overnight visits. Annalyn’s overwhelming shame and confusion makes her unable to tell anyone about what’s really happening. Flook skillfully depicts the oppressive atmosphere; in one memorable scene, for example, Annalyn recalls playing alone in the barn’s grain bins, letting herself sink into the wheat and then fighting her way out. This recklessness foreshadows her later adolescent rebellions in which she sleeps around, steals cars, and drinks so much that she blacks out. Throughout, the author highlights the narrator’s struggle between her longing to be a “good” girl with her other “shameful” emotions: “I carried primal feelings: no confidence, no self-esteem, shame,” she remembers. The story has abuse at its center but its overarching tale of young women fighting to reconcile society’s expectations with other desires also resonates. It also helps that the author has an eye for detail; for example, the narrator recounts the clothes she wore (“a rosebud pink taffeta, with a matching pink grosgrain band around the strapless top”) and the cars people drove (“a red Alfa Romeo convertible”) with astonishing specificity, effectively drawing readers into the midcentury milieu. However, the story’s brutal emotional honesty is what keeps it moving.

A frank, sometimes-disturbing debut novel that highlights the darkness that can lurk within picture-perfect families.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: 978-1631355103

Page Count: -

Publisher: Strategic Book Publishing & Rights Agency, LLC

Review Posted Online: June 1, 2015

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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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