NORTH COUNTRY

A PERSONAL JOURNEY THROUGH THE BORDERLAND

A richly observant memoir of a coast-to-coast journey along the US-Canada border, which the author undertook ``a little unsure of how to proceed but eager to see what I could.'' The people along that line, writes novelist Mosher (Northern Borders, 1994, etc.), are a breed apart: self-reliant, tenacious, suspicious of the governments in Washington and Ottawa alike, to the point of harboring secessionist sympathies. The land, Mosher suggests, requires that ruggedness and independence of its inhabitants, remote as it is. And that very remoteness (Mosher describes the country as being marked by good brook-trout fishing, severe weather, and most of all, static over the radio) makes the border, along most of its length, a haven for outlaws of all kinds- -cigarette and drug smugglers, tax resisters, even the infamous ``supergun'' builder Gerald Bull, who built a prototype atomic cannon destined for Saddam Hussein's Iraq. Mosher ranges along the line, collecting sometimes wondrous anecdotes of the lives of scrappy old-timers and young people who have chosen to make their homes away from the big cities. (One of the best anecdotes concerns the town of Marquette, Mich., which banned a movie shot there, Anatomy of a Murder, because Lee Remick's panties figured prominently in a courtroom scene—a scene shot, Mosher notes, just a block or so away, from the town's red-light district.) More descriptive than analytical, his account attains a certain poetry at times, as when Mosher quotes a taciturn New Englander who remarks, ``As for the border, I don't see any border, do you? Just a beautiful country with a river running through it.'' Mosher, a Vermonter, is better at describing the eastern part of his trip than the western, where he is less at home. Even so, his book makes for an armchair traveler's delight. (Author tour)

Pub Date: May 15, 1997

ISBN: 0-395-83707-3

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1997

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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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