A harrowing, compelling, and moving scrapbook of primary sources and reflections.

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TWEETS FROM THE TRENCHES

LITTLE TRUE STORIES OF LIFE & DEATH ON THE WESTERN FRONT

This debut compilation combines American-Canadian journalist and poet Carmichael’s poems with historical photographs, documents, diaries, letters, and stories related to the First World War.

The author writes that she took her inspiration for this book from the “trench letters” written by her World War I veteran grandfather, George “Black Jack” Vowel. She’d turned them into posts on Facebook and Twitter and then broadened the project, traveling in 2016 and 2017 to the former Western Front and collecting a wide variety of letters, memoirs, journals, and other firsthand accounts of the war. The result is this self-described “flash documentary creative non-fiction” book, which includes Carmichael’s poetry and a few songs. Arranged chronologically and amply illustrated with photographs, sketches, and documents, the work offers the personal experiences of a wide range of people. The viewpoints of Canadian soldiers dominate the text, but Carmichael importantly offers a much more diverse assemblage of wartime participants than most other histories do. For example, she highlights the important contributions of First Nations fighters, such as Lt. Albert Mountain Horse or Alexander Wuttunee DeCoteau, and of women, whether they were nurses or those who disguised themselves as men, such as Serbian Milunka Savic, “the most decorated female fighter in the history of warfare, period.” The horrors of trench warfare come through clearly, as do the courage and wit of soldiers trying to survive; the book also covers the grief of loss and the ravages of PTSD, formerly called “shell shock.” Carmichael’s poems, mostly free-verse lines with pauses indicated by virgules, include snippets from “Black Jack” in italics, which provide poignant commentary: “Must try to remember why I am here / I am done / I am played out / I look like a loose button on an overcoat.” But although the verses include powerful moments, they’re occasionally too obvious, as in a reflection on “The ‘Great War for Civilisation’ ”: “How could something that lays waste an entire generation…ever be great?”

A harrowing, compelling, and moving scrapbook of primary sources and reflections.

Pub Date: Aug. 12, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-71802-146-4

Page Count: 168

Publisher: Time Tunnel Media

Review Posted Online: March 19, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2019

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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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