A thoughtful, honest take on the messy, complicated process of grieving.

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GRIEF IS...

THOUGHTS ON LOSS, STRUGGLE AND NEW BEGINNINGS

A debut author offers meditations on coping with loss and learning to live again after the death of a loved one.

When Mertins’ husband died following a long illness, she wasn’t prepared for the overwhelming grief that followed. In the immediate aftermath, she had to “fight just to tread water and not drown.” Simply getting through the day was a challenge, as she vividly chronicles in this series of brief, journal-style entries on her feelings of loss, anger, depression, frustration, and, ultimately, joy in the years following her spouse’s death. The candid, contemplative book is divided into three lucid sections. The first focuses on “the terrible awful beginning,” or the first year or so after her loss, when grief was at its rawest and most potent. That’s followed by “the messy middle” and finally the livable “lasting non-ending”—the point when “finally…grief was no longer the place where I started and finished my day.” Mertins is hardly the first author to tackle the topic of losing a loved one, but what makes this work unusual and compelling is her adamant refusal to file the rough edges of her emotions in order to make readers more comfortable. Speaking to others who have experienced a similar loss, she clearly encourages them not to deny or hide their emotions simply because society has set an arbitrary time limit on sorrow. As one sympathetic person told her, “It’s grief and it will take as long as it will take.” Nor is the author a fan of the concept of moving on, a phrase that “suggests closing the door on what was.” Instead, she prefers to think of “moving forward,” which involves acknowledging “the love that carried me through those years and helped me become who I now am” while also accepting that it’s possible to build a new and meaningful life. This may not be the most elegantly written book on grief, but in sharing her unvarnished emotions, Mertins will surely provide some comfort to those facing a similar loss.

A thoughtful, honest take on the messy, complicated process of grieving.

Pub Date: Oct. 4, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5255-0854-7

Page Count: 150

Publisher: FriesenPress

Review Posted Online: Dec. 9, 2017

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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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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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