A powerful and hauntingly elegiac hybrid of travelogue and memoir.

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TO A MOUNTAIN IN TIBET

Novelist and acclaimed travel writer Thubron (Shadow of the Silk Road, 2007, etc.) chronicles his trek to Mt. Kailas, “the most sacred of the world’s mountains.”

The book opens with the author traveling across northern Nepal toward Kailas, a 22,000-foot mountain in Western Tibet. Considered holy to the adherents of four religions and one-fifth of humankind, Kailas beckons to pilgrims and travelers alike. Thubron’s reasons for undertaking the arduous trek across magnificent but desolate lands at the “roof of the world” were personal rather than faith-based. His travel party—comprised of “a guide, a cook, a horse man, myself”—reflected the private nature of his journey, which actually began the day he lost his mother. The author sought to mark the passing of the last member of his birth family by going “somewhere meaningful on the earth’s surface.” The closer Thubron drew to Kailas, however, the more he found himself inexorably drawn into the mystical heart of Tibet’s “death-haunted culture.” Western objectivity fell away, transforming an impartial observer of monks, pilgrims, temples, monasteries, religious relics and end-of-life rituals into a very human seeker struggling to come to terms with the transience of human existence and the fact of his own aloneness, both as a man and a writer. Travel offered no freedom from the pain of surviving (or dying); it only brought “an illusion” of change that temporarily distracted rather than cured. Yet Thubron still found a kind of grace in the unexpected cross-cultural connection he experienced with the Tibetan poet-yogi, Milarepa. However alien the terrain, a shared humanity with Tibetans rendered the author’s experience of loss universal rather than unique. Emotional subtlety and vivid evocations of the people and places are only part of what makes the book so enjoyable. The present-tense narration allows readers make discoveries alongside Thubron, which adds immeasurably to the intimacy and immediacy of the reading experience.

A powerful and hauntingly elegiac hybrid of travelogue and memoir.

Pub Date: March 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-06-176826-2

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2010

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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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