A flawed yet engaging and informative on-the-ground travel guide.

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Never Safe, Always Fun!

TOURS & TALES OF THE EVERGLADES

A former wilderness guide recalls working in the Florida Everglades in this passionate if at times crude travel guide–cum-memoir.

In his debut, Mitchell recounts taking waves of anxious tourists through the alligator-infested waters of the Everglades. The book is shaped into a series of tours through the national park, punctuated by humorous anecdotes along the way. A former IT security specialist from the Isle of Wight, Mitchell lived and worked at the Everglades International Hostel offering various immersion excursions to the guests. Many of the tours described are on foot, walking knee-deep in water. In true tour-guide fashion, Mitchell leads readers step by step through this alien landscape, describing flora and fauna along the way. He warns of saw grass that can “shred your clothing and skin,” the infamous and highly venomous cottonmouth snake, and, of course, the American alligator, the “keeper of the glades.” Mitchell has a keen eye for topography, and some of the most fascinating descriptions come in the shape of the various cypress domes that dot the park. These ponds, below a tree canopy that forms the shape of a dome, house a variety of wildlife and are foreboding to enter. Mitchell describes tourists blanching at the sight of a resident alligator or screaming as turtles brush by their ankles. In the preface to the book, Mitchell says, “The Everglades are a wild and poetic landscape that is largely indescribable,” yet he compensates with stunning color photographs and a wealth of background information. The book is, however, prone to repetition. For instance, Mitchell twice describes the differences between an alligator and a crocodile, and he repeatedly refers to how touching some wildlife in the park is deemed “harassment.” A few of his anecdotes might be considered puerile—forever the prankster, he describes putting his own feces beneath the pillow of a colleague—and indeed, such anecdotes are mostly unnecessary and muddy the tone of a perfectly readable travel guide, limiting the book’s audience in the process.

A flawed yet engaging and informative on-the-ground travel guide.

Pub Date: Aug. 3, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4996-0684-3

Page Count: 276

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: June 10, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2015

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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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