FOREVER SISTERS

A powerhouse of 18 women writers reflect on sisters (not on PC sisterhood) in a medley of tales that commemorates the sometimes hateful, sometimes tender and trusting bond between two women who grow up together. According to Whitney Otto’s opening chapter, “Seven Sisters: An Analysis of Numbers,” sisters don’t even have to share genes. A provocative list of possible sororal relationships includes sisters-in-law and sorority sisters. What defines a sister, says editor O’Keefe (who also edited an anthology called Mother, not reviewed), is a mutual history and culture, whispered secrets, and longevity. Celebrating—or sometimes damning—the relationsip are such heavyweight authors as Marilyn French and Fay Weldon, as well as less well-known but talented writers, like Caroline Leavitt, who have contributed original writings to this collection; Alice Walker, Ann Beattie, Cristina Garcia and others offer reprints of relevant stories or excerpts from novels. Leavitt’s compelling piece sets sister against sister because of a man (he loses); Weldon, in “Pyroclastic Flow,” creates a sister and a brother-in-law who give her a pain in the neck. Susan Palwick combines mysticism and earthiness in “G.I. Jesus,” a story of separation and reunion; also on another plane is poet Rita Dove’s account of Beauty’s sisters, withering at home while her wild romance with the Beast flourishes. Alice Walker’s story is of a mother who is forced to choose between her daughters. Ethnic bases are covered in stories from Hispanic, Asian, and Eastern European authors. Closest to capturing the essence of a sisterly relationship is Carol Edgarian’s “Sister Rue.” “My sister is not my friend’she is too close, knows too much,” says Edgarian. “The gift my sister and I give each other is the truth.” Vital and celebratory, with no sloppy sentiment, these stories are honest as only sisters can be.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-671-00792-0

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Pocket

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1999

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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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