A disturbing, affecting, and unforgettable work that remains upbeat while asking difficult questions about society.

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IN THE DIGITAL AGE NO ONE SHOULD BE LEFT BEHIND

A self-made British internet entrepreneur leaves a comfortable life to discover why so many people remain trapped in poverty and unemployment in this debut autobiography and manifesto.

At age 15 and from a working-class background, Barker consulted a school adviser only to be told that he should take a job in a shop or enlist in the military. Eschewing both, he persuaded a company to hire him for what he thought would be an entry-level IT position in the 1990s. Disillusioned with the menial work and the lack of training, he impetuously declared that he could solve a technology problem that had stumped college-educated software designers. Derided but successful, he continued his self-education and self-promotion until he was able to form his own company and earn a substantial salary. Barker became disillusioned by the increasing pressure to maximize not the company’s efficiency or the quality of its products (though high) but stockholder profits. Seemingly having achieved the British—and American—dream, he quit. Despite his colleagues’ incredulity, Barker became obsessed with the spiral of despair that had consumed many of his former classmates and why society, while entering the digital age, was seeing an increase in poverty, unemployment, homelessness, and crime. Finding out how and why this happens took him on a journey around the world and into his own sudden decline, where he struggled against complacency, bureaucracy, self-doubt, and the entrenched silos of business, government, and charity. Barker writes simply and directly but never clumsily, even when describing his religious conversion (“I feel that faith is a personal thing and that each person needs to find God in his own way. But I think it is important that people feel comfortable sharing their faith and beliefs with one another, as they also define who we are”). Though set in Britain, this tale detailing the author’s almost Abraham Lincoln–like struggle against adversity should appeal to Americans. Most poignant is his recollection of seeking food from the same soup kitchens he had visited to conduct interviews. Barker examines pervasive social immobility, a welfare program that helps addicts and criminals before the working poor, and a justice system that rewards business owners who declare bankruptcy. His tolerant and inquisitive work calls for the business world to reincorporate integrity and sustainability concepts to meet real human needs.

A disturbing, affecting, and unforgettable work that remains upbeat while asking difficult questions about society.

Pub Date: Jan. 12, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-9957128-0-5

Page Count: 176

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2017

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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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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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