A book that will be most appreciated by loved ones affected by this tragedy and those open to a similar response to grief.

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A Most Incredible Witness

In this brief memoir, Pittsford recounts the trials of dealing with her son’s premature death and addressing her own trust in God.

On Sept. 1, 2010, in San Francisco, Pittsford’s 28-year-old son, Tim, witnessed a hit-and-run accident in which a pedestrian was killed. He followed the driver in an attempt to get some information for police. A few days later, Tim mysteriously passed away in his sleep, leaving only a couple drops of blood on his pillow as a clue. The first half of the book details the Pittsfords’ receiving news of their son’s passing, the planning and preparation of memorial services, and the challenge of a mother having to let go of her son, all with a strongly Christian tone. Through a series of seemingly miraculous occurrences, the daughter of the hit-and-run victim comes to learn of Tim’s identity as the witness and his subsequent death, and she reaches out to Pittsford so the two can console each other in their grief. The second half of the book deals with the aftermath: the family’s trying to find a new normal, Pittsford’s daughter’s questioning her faith and recommending that the entire family go for counseling, and the final coroner’s report on Tim’s death. Pittsford’s writing is conversational and easily digested, but various spelling and grammatical errors distract from her narrative; for example, misspelling the Italian word “paesanos” as “pizanos” and using the word “perspective” instead of “respective.” Pittsford comes across as the ideal Christian woman, never questioning God’s will but choosing to follow His plan, regardless of her grief and uncertainty. Some readers may be inspired by her religious strength, while others may find it difficult to relate to this particular grieving method.

A book that will be most appreciated by loved ones affected by this tragedy and those open to a similar response to grief.

Pub Date: Aug. 19, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-5127-0572-0

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Westbow Press

Review Posted Online: Nov. 10, 2015

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

THE 48 LAWS OF POWER

The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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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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