DATELINE

TORONTO : THE COMPLETE TORONTO STAR DISPATCHES, 1920-1924

The complete (174) Toronto Star pieces young Hemingway wrote after his return from WW I on his second job as a writer. At 18, before going to Italy for ambulance service, he'd spent six months as a cub on the Kansas City Star. During his four years (1920-24) as a Toronto free-lancer, Hemingway found himself steadily in print. Meanwhile, he was writing widely rejected short stories (overarch and stilted) and after a stretch in Toronto spent much of his time on the Continent, sending back dispatches. Hemingway the feature-writer burned with a hard flame that turned clichés to ash and left only a glowing, often mordant wit and a robust sense of language. Whatever other sources Hemingway's news style may have had, Ring Lardner is the most obvious—there are several laugh-out-loud heartfelt but deadpan parodies herein, especially of sports writing: "We were fishing for the rainbow trout where a little river comes into a lake and cuts a channel alongside the bank. Into the mouth of this river and the bay it empties into, big schools of rainbow trout come out of the big lake. They chase the shiners and young herring and you can see their back fins coming out of the water like porpoises with a shower of minnows shooting up into the air. Every once in a while a big trout will jump clear of the water with a noise like somebody throwing a bathtub into the lake." Whenever Hemingway touches on sports, especially fishing and camping, he exhales poetry. Often, however, both here and abroad, he feels the need to give his reader the "true facts" about some social condition or political figure, and we hear the first tones of the Papa of later years telling us how it truly was. Everything in Paris seems to bring him to bright attention, for example the Russian exiles selling their jewels, while waiting for something wonderful to happen back home. "There is a cafe on the Boulevard Montparnasse where a great number of Russians gather every day for this something wonderful to happen, and to recall the great old days of the Czar. But there is a great probability that nothing very wonderful nor unexpected will happen and then, eventually, like all the rest of the world, the Russians of Paris may have to go to work. It seems a pity, they are such a charming lot." As the dispatches gather, Hemingway becomes more densely knowledgable and one feels the very forests, small towns, train stops and wayside inns yielding copy to the stroke of his fingertips. And then, in one of his longest pieces, there is the explosion of carnival and the running of the bulls in Pamplona, where young Ernest, in writer's heaven, is sad and acidulous and giddy with action, color, girls, and the dangerous bulls—"they come out into the glare of the arena to die in the afternoon." Birth of a style heard round the world. Like early Tolstoy, the guy had something.

Pub Date: Nov. 18, 1985

ISBN: 0684188023

Page Count: 478

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 1985

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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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DEAR MR. HENSHAW

Possibly inspired by the letters Cleary has received as a children's author, this begins with second-grader Leigh Botts' misspelled fan letter to Mr. Henshaw, whose fictitious book itself derives from the old take-off title Forty Ways W. Amuse a Dog. Soon Leigh is in sixth grade and bombarding his still-favorite author with a list of questions to be answered and returned by "next Friday," the day his author report is due. Leigh is disgruntled when Mr. Henshaw's answer comes late, and accompanied by a set of questions for Leigh to answer. He threatens not to, but as "Mom keeps nagging me about your dumb old questions" he finally gets the job done—and through his answers Mr. Henshaw and readers learn that Leigh considers himself "the mediumest boy in school," that his parents have split up, and that he dreams of his truck-driver dad driving him to school "hauling a forty-foot reefer, which would make his outfit add up to eighteen wheels altogether. . . . I guess I wouldn't seem so medium then." Soon Mr. Henshaw recommends keeping a diary (at least partly to get Leigh off his own back) and so the real letters to Mr. Henshaw taper off, with "pretend," unmailed letters (the diary) taking over. . . until Leigh can write "I don't have to pretend to write to Mr. Henshaw anymore. I have learned to say what I think on a piece of paper." Meanwhile Mr. Henshaw offers writing tips, and Leigh, struggling with a story for a school contest, concludes "I think you're right. Maybe I am not ready to write a story." Instead he writes a "true story" about a truck haul with his father in Leigh's real past, and this wins praise from "a real live author" Leigh meets through the school program. Mr. Henshaw has also advised that "a character in a story should solve a problem or change in some way," a standard juvenile-fiction dictum which Cleary herself applies modestly by having Leigh solve his disappearing lunch problem with a burglar-alarmed lunch box—and, more seriously, come to recognize and accept that his father can't be counted on. All of this, in Leigh's simple words, is capably and unobtrusively structured as well as valid and realistic. From the writing tips to the divorced-kid blues, however, it tends to substitute prevailing wisdom for the little jolts of recognition that made the Ramona books so rewarding.

Pub Date: Aug. 22, 1983

ISBN: 143511096X

Page Count: 133

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 16, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1983

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