SURVIVING

THE UNCOLLECTED WRITINGS OF HENRY GREEN

Who knows that it won't be Henry Green (1905-73), not Joyce or Woolf, that history finally will favor as the greatest English prose-extender of the century? For mysteriousness, fidelity both to complex sensation and simple speech, humane comedy, and what John Updike in the introduction here perfectly encapsulates as ``marvellous originality, intuition, sensuality, and finish,'' Green's novels are almost without equal. And yet by 1952, with Doting, he was done—to live out another 20 years as a businessman, then retiree: an eerie coda, largely of silence. But from the whole career, his grandson now has collected what scraps, rejected work, and bit-journalism he did (along with the amazing Paris Review interview he gave in 1958 to Terry Southern). There are some minor fiction drafts here (a trying-out of the articleless prose of Living; a 1927 sketch describing a swarm of starlings that seems a premonition of the great birds-in-a-tree passage in the much later Concluding). But most interesting may be Green's ever modest insistences, in the occasional article or book review, on fiction as a ``non-representational art,'' ``life which is not''—an art of misapprehension, mistake, mishearing: an antidote to the imperialism of authorial direction more convincing than the French deconstructionism of later decades. And, in a 1961 chiding of fiction critics, there's this jewel: ``Living one's own life can be a great muddle, but the great writers do not make it plain, they palliate, and put the whole in a sort of proportion. Which helps; and on the whole, year after year, help is what one needs.'' No Green fan will want to be without it. (First serial rights to Antaeus, Conjunctions, Grand Street, Missouri Review, Paris Review, and Story)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 1993

ISBN: 0-670-80476-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 1992

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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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