A longtime writing professor shares her sensory approach to developing creative writing skills.
For more than 30 years, Fennimore (Earth Talking, 2010), a professor emeritus at Western Washington University in Bellingham, Washington, taught writing to public school students ranging from preschool through graduate school levels. In this 15-chapter guide, she sets forth her “field-developed” curriculum, a series of activities that begins with such sensory exercises as considering what words come to mind while contemplating a cotton ball and builds to crafting a satisfying story with conflict, characters and style. Fennimore, also an illustrator and published author of poetry and on the art of bookbinding, infuses all her creative interests into this work. She uses drawings to spark flights of fancy, including cover art of a sketched flower that has the caption “petals having a gossip session.” She encourages readers to bind together books of their own writing to celebrate their creative expression. Fennimore’s exercises are, not surprisingly, focused on reading or writing poetry, although many prose selections and activities are also included. One of Fennimore’s particularly interesting ideas is to use children’s picture books as a springboard to launch other stories. While Fennimore’s approach has plenty of New-Age flavor, it’s also her pedagogical belief, backed by other educators whom she cites throughout her narrative, that one learns how to write through a process of observing experiences, talking about them and then expressing them in written form. This credo has plenty of mass as well as academic appeal, and Fennimore must have been a wonderful mentor to many in her career. Based on its abundance of writing prompts alone, this book will be greatly valued by parents, students and teachers. Experienced writers may find some of Fennimore’s tutorials a bit too remedial, and her preference for children’s literature and student writing as reading selections won’t be to everyone’s taste. Overall, however, this is an effective—and affecting—starter text to calling forth the writer’s voice.
A motivating combination of self-expression, philosophy and practical exercises for aspiring writers.
Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)
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").