Not everyone will agree with Harrison’s political take, but his entertaining re-creation of the campaign makes for an...

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THE GREAT DIVIDE

STORY OF THE 2016 U.S. PRESIDENTIAL RACE

The 2016 presidential election campaign was a firestorm of partisan vitriol and crazed Trumpery, according to this energetic, opinionated recap.

Journalist Harrison (NOW They Make It Legal: Reflections of an Aging Baby Boomer, 2015) delivers a week-by-week, tweet-by-tweet narrative of the campaign from the first ominous rumblings in the summer of 2015 through Election Day 2016 and its denouement of competing fraud and conspiracy allegations. His main theme is the anatomy of a body politic, split by innumerable fissures: between Republican candidates; between Trump and Fox News broadcaster Megyn Kelly; between the Republican establishment and the Trump-ian base; and between Hillary Clinton’s Democratic establishment and the Bernie Sanders insurgency. He also looks at the conflicts between minorities and resentful white people; between cops and protesters; between Trump and women, Trump and the press, Trump and the Pope, Trump and Trump; and ultimately between the Republicans and Democrats, the only division that really counts in the author’s telling. His account is lucid, well-paced and evocative. For example, Trump, in a debate, is described as being “like an angry bear with a permanent scowl on a pronounced pouty face.” Harrison’s focus is on campaign ephemera—name-calling, publicity stunts, ill-advised statements, and grudging retractions—and he covers them all adroitly, from Mexican-bashing to the climactic revelation of an Access Hollywood recording. But he also fills in background news developments, such as intermittent terrorist attacks, and does cogent deep-dives into central issues, such as immigration and gun control, to try to separate fact from rhetoric. An avowed liberal Democrat, Harrison wears his own politics on his sleeve, soap-boxing for a single-payer national health system and against religion—which he calls “the biggest fraud ever perpetrated by mankind”—and he makes no secret of his chagrin at Trump’s success. (He dings Clinton for missteps, as well, but generally is softer on her.) Still, he manages to get the facts straight while charting a clear path through the chaos.

Not everyone will agree with Harrison’s political take, but his entertaining re-creation of the campaign makes for an absorbing read.

Pub Date: Feb. 17, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4575-5403-2

Page Count: 410

Publisher: Dog Ear Publishing

Review Posted Online: April 28, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2017

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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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