An unevenly executed but helpfully comprehensive childbirth manual.

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A MIDWIFE IN MY POCKET

This informal handbook tells women and their partners what to expect during pregnancy, labor, and the early days at home with an infant.

Debut author Cook, a midwife in Britain since 1999, envisions her book as a practical guide rather than a medical primer, so her overall tone is suitably chatty. The book has a logical, chronological structure, beginning with a timeline for antenatal care; from there, it proceeds to address common physical worries (constipation and back pain), childbirth preparatory classes, shopping for the baby’s needs, and packing a hospital bag. The chapters on labor itself contain much that readers will find familiar, but Cook emphasizes novel ways of thinking about delivery: “Think of labour as a positive experience.…Your body is designed to do this.” It’s an empowering mind-over-matter approach that resists the stereotype of lying passively in bed to deliver. Cook also considers epidurals to be a last resort and encourages women to move around and try different positions during labor. She describes alternative methods of pain relief and relaxation, and she’s also realistic about birth complications: “Don’t feel a failure if you need help with the birth of your baby,” she says. “The aim is a safe delivery.” One standout chapter documents the personal changes that a new mother may face, drawing on the author’s own experience of postnatal depression. Checklists, as well as “Did You Know?” and “Top Tip!” segments, break things up. However, these sections—printed in bold or italicized text—are so frequent that it’s sometimes hard to know where to focus one’s attention. Also, the prose is sometimes so simplistic as to seem condescending: “a general Anaesthetic (when you are put to sleep)”; “Your Midwife will ALWAYS want a wee sample.” Finally, American readers should be aware that a good portion of the advice, particularly that relating to maternity leave allowances, is U.K.–specific, as is some of the vocabulary (such as “nappy,” “dummy,” and “Moses basket”).

An unevenly executed but helpfully comprehensive childbirth manual.

Pub Date: Nov. 18, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5246-6509-8

Page Count: 198

Publisher: AuthorHouseUK

Review Posted Online: April 20, 2017

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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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