A touching legacy narrative infused with practical wisdom.

READ REVIEW

Common Sense Is Not All That Common

A physician with Lou Gehrig’s disease shares insights to leave behind for his young grandson in this debut advice guide.

Dunsky, a retired allergy specialist diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, believes that “absence of guidance” can be a factor leading to failures in life. He wrote this book as “my way of sharing seventy two years of accumulated knowledge, experiences, and observations,” specifically with his young grandson, Jake, “for the future.” In 36 essay chapters, he covers a host of life topics, including education, marriage, decision-making, health, and money. He offers up many personal anecdotes, including how his “unrealistic impression that I would have no problem being accepted into medical school” in the United States prompted him to apply himself better while attending med school abroad. He emphasizes the value of learning, family, and friends and provides several lists, including questions to ask in order to be a good critical thinker (such as “Have I crosschecked this information with reliable sources?”). He also offers common reasons for making mistakes (highlighting distractions such as smartphones and social media). In his final chapter, Dunsky reflects on his “crushing” and “quite uncommon” diagnosis of ALS, which he says has nevertheless had some positive outcomes, including allowing him to treasure the remainder of his life and create this labor-of-love book. The author provides the kind of wise yet down-to-earth commentary that anyone would wish for in a grandparent. His insights as a physician, hinted at here by his detailing of a few past cases, are worthy of a spinoff book. This book is rather lengthy, however, and at times, highly personal, particularly in the author’s direct addresses to Jake. Still, Dunsky’s reiterations of the “obvious,” such as to treat others honorably and be wary of those who don’t respond in kind, are quite important and indeed inspirational. They underscore the qualities required to lead a happy, successful life.

A touching legacy narrative infused with practical wisdom.

Pub Date: July 14, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4973-7383-9

Page Count: 438

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Aug. 17, 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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