These essays, whose opening paragraphs give little clue to where the author is going, are dense, surprising pieces that...

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HORIZON'S LENS

MY TIME ON THE TURNING WORLD

From an essayist and poet whose forays into the natural world are also journeys into literature, linguistics, history, science and philosophy comes a collection of lyrical pieces.

Dodd (English/Kansas State Univ.; In the Mind's Eye: Essays across the Animate World, 2008, etc.) moves through landscapes equipped with a keen sense of time and place and a perceptive eye. In Chaco Canyon, N.M., which she visited at the winter solstice, she paid attention not just to the sky and to light and shadow, but also to the ruins and the petroglyphs, subjects that led naturally to the minds of the people who once lived there. She noticed the birds, the most minute plant life, the snakes and the mammals. During her visit to Chimney Rock Pueblo to witness a lunar standstill, her thoughts turned to the biochemistry of time, the ways in which human bodies keep track of the seasons. Although Dodd traveled widely in the American West, hiking and camping in Colorado, Utah and Wyoming and collecting pollen samples and counting bison at a Midwestern prairie research station, she also includes chronicles of her trips to the Orkneys and the Hebrides along the coast of Scotland. The megaliths she sees there inspire musings about the region’s medieval inhabitants, and a visit to the Yucatan Peninsula leads to an essay on the language and the numbering system of the Mayans. Throughout, Dodd entwines the details of her camping life—cold nights, hard beds, basic food—with her ruminations on culture, anthropology, geography, time and many other subjects.

These essays, whose opening paragraphs give little clue to where the author is going, are dense, surprising pieces that demand to be read and then reread with care.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-8032-4078-0

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Univ. of Nebraska

Review Posted Online: June 12, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2012

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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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