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Thoughtful ruminations about current language mixed with praise for clarity and disdain for murkiness.

Although this is yet another how-to, self-help text for would-be writers—with some of the usual hand-wringing and teeth-gnashing about the abuses of English today—this one merits more attention because it comes from the keyboard of a celebrated journalist and editor.

Reuters editor at large Evans (My Paper Chase: True Stories of Vanished Times, 2009), who has been an editor of the Times and the Sunday Times, chronicles the many aspects of writing and language that annoy him. Some of his principal targets include obfuscation, misused and/or abused words, long introductory phrases or clauses, overlong sentences, clichés, and grammatical stumbles (dangling participles, superfluous adverbs, and their foul kin. The author is mellower about ending sentences with prepositions (noting this was a nonsensical proscription from the beginning) and sentence fragments. A sentence “expresses a complete thought,” he reminds us, and complete thoughts do not always feature a subject and verb. Evans begins with a fine chapter that could stand alone: an overview of what he’s doing and why. He moves along to some sections about the abuses of those in the business, legal, political, and educational worlds. In the penultimate section, the author offers examples of writers in the right, Roger Angell, and Barbara Demick among them. In between is a mixture of portions of published texts that Evans re-edits for our edification; lists (sometimes too long) of clichés, phrases that writers can easily shorten, and words that writers misuse/confuse—e.g., “appraise and “apprise, “insidious” and “invidious.” Readers may take some smug delight in the authors’ own use of the passive voice and his pluralizing of Humpty (as in Dumpty) with “Humpties” (does Billy become Billies?). But who’s perfect?

Thoughtful ruminations about current language mixed with praise for clarity and disdain for murkiness.

Pub Date: May 11, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-316-27717-4

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Jan. 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2017

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This is not the Nutcracker sweet, as passed on by Tchaikovsky and Marius Petipa. No, this is the original Hoffmann tale of 1816, in which the froth of Christmas revelry occasionally parts to let the dark underside of childhood fantasies and fears peek through. The boundaries between dream and reality fade, just as Godfather Drosselmeier, the Nutcracker's creator, is seen as alternately sinister and jolly. And Italian artist Roberto Innocenti gives an errily realistic air to Marie's dreams, in richly detailed illustrations touched by a mysterious light. A beautiful version of this classic tale, which will captivate adults and children alike. (Nutcracker; $35.00; Oct. 28, 1996; 136 pp.; 0-15-100227-4)

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 1996

ISBN: 0-15-100227-4

Page Count: 136

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1996

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An extravaganza in Bemelmans' inimitable vein, but written almost dead pan, with sly, amusing, sometimes biting undertones, breaking through. For Bemelmans was "the man who came to cocktails". And his hostess was Lady Mendl (Elsie de Wolfe), arbiter of American decorating taste over a generation. Lady Mendl was an incredible person,- self-made in proper American tradition on the one hand, for she had been haunted by the poverty of her childhood, and the years of struggle up from its ugliness,- until she became synonymous with the exotic, exquisite, worshipper at beauty's whrine. Bemelmans draws a portrait in extremes, through apt descriptions, through hilarious anecdote, through surprisingly sympathetic and understanding bits of appreciation. The scene shifts from Hollywood to the home she loved the best in Versailles. One meets in passing a vast roster of famous figures of the international and artistic set. And always one feels Bemelmans, slightly offstage, observing, recording, commenting, illustrated.

Pub Date: Feb. 23, 1955

ISBN: 0670717797

Page Count: -

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 25, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1955

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