An honest, painful yet humorous account of seeking unconditional love.

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The Good Daughter

SECRETS, LIFE STORIES, AND HEALING

In this intimate memoir, the only child of aging parents describes her struggles to balance caregiving, marriage, and career, and to reconcile daughterly devotion with childhood wounds.

Mother, wife, and the founder of an international school, overachiever Shoemaker found that her need to please everyone was outmatched by the demands of her domineering mother, Mildred, and the physical ailments of an easygoing father, Jim, who developed Alzheimer’s. When both parents moved to a nursing home due to declining health, Jim was housed apart from Mildred, who bitterly withdrew from her husband and criticized Shoemaker. “I visualize my mother wrapping a long rope around her waist,” the author writes, “handing one end of it to me, and jumping off a bridge.” Flashbacks to life in Cairo and childhood pressures to compete helped Shoemaker decide to change this lifelong sense of inferiority. Simultaneously trying to draw closer to and assert more independence from a mother who still intimidated, Shoemaker felt inadequate and withdrew from her husband, whose own feelings of neglect were buried behind a similar childhood upbringing concerned with how a man should behave. By urging her mother to collaborate on this memoir, Shoemaker discovered the tender side of Mildred and uncovered secrets that more fully explain her mother’s seemingly heartless choices. Aside from black-and-white photos from her mother’s scrapbooks, five pages of questions for “Life Review” follow the narrative, though they’re rather generic and unnecessary. This memorable book’s real achievement is that much of it would be mundane were it not for Shoemaker’s gift for description. Also a poet, she crafts dialogue and situations to create scenes that can be funny, heartbreaking, or frightening. However, the more Shoemaker stands up to her mother, the more Mildred dominates the story, and the tales of Shoemaker’s pupils, fascinating in themselves, drop out of the text.

An honest, painful yet humorous account of seeking unconditional love.

Pub Date: April 15, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-9864253-0-1

Page Count: 254

Publisher: Amity Bridge Books

Review Posted Online: July 28, 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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