An extraordinary affirmation of life as the late French journalist Guibert, writing in the final stages of AIDS, records with moving frankness the reprieve granted him by the experimental drug DDL. In his previous book, To the Friend Who Did Not Save My Life (1991), Guibert candidly chronicled the passage of AIDS through his body, and now, if not reconciled to dying, he at least relishes the temporary lease the new drug affords him. Given only to those in the final days of the disease, it is drug of compassion rather than aggression, and, taken together with the occasional Prozac, enables Guibert to start writing again, even to travel to his beloved island of Elba. Still, there is a problem, since supplies are limited; even Guibert's first batch was illegally acquired from a doctor tending a near-death ballet dancer. Guibert admits to being troubled by this, but his scruples are overcome by his improved health. Once unable to eat, leave his apartment, or write, he can now live more fully: ``I wasn't euphoric, but the threat of absolute black despair had dissipated a little, it was there underneath but was no longer vibrating in that intolerable way.'' Obliged still to undergo endless medical procedures, many excruciatingly painful, he categorizes his various doctors as brutal ``pig-stickers'' or—as in the case of the beautiful Claudette—as kind, gentle friends. He notes ironically that his earlier book brought him luck—``it had a success that comforted me at an intermediate stage of my illness.'' And he observes now that ``everything in life is negotiable''; DDL has been yet another instrument for negotiating more time and strength. Guibert's great passion for life and literature illuminates this exemplary—and deceptively cool—piece of clinical reportage with a fierce and incandescent light.

Pub Date: March 1, 1994

ISBN: 0-8067-1352-5

Page Count: 200

Publisher: Braziller

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1994

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...



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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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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