LIFE AND WORK

A MANAGER'S SEARCH FOR MEANING

Autry (Love and Profit, 1991) is back in the saddle again, astride different—if by no means fresh—hobbyhorses. Now retired from the presidency of Meredith's Magazine Group (a position that allowed him to extol trendy, vaguely New Age management precepts), the author has moved on to address larger matters, including life its own self, in another mawkish amalgam of short-take commentary and banal verse. In deadly earnest fashion (which suggests that, if he were a monarch, Autry would very much like to be known as James the Good), the erstwhile executive offers scattershot counsel on integrating one's personal and professional lives, among other things, in letters to fictive offspring. He also touches without dwelling on such issues as what business can (or can't) do to help solve socioeconomic problems, the putatively excessive compensation of top corporate officers, the responsibilities of stewardship, dealing with loss, encouraging a sense of community in varied milieus, health care's costs, and the ubiquity of pop culture. Nor does Autry neglect to provide sanctimonious apologias for his former insensitivity to the aspirations of women, members of ethnic minorities, the disabled, and others who qualify in one way or another as disadvantaged. In some cases, the author's unexceptionable sensibilities yield decidedly loopy results. At one point, for instance, he argues that the optically challenged should reflect whether they could do their jobs without the ``assistive technology'' afforded by eyeglasses. Featherweight inspirational fare for those who find Og Mandino too demanding.

Pub Date: March 24, 1994

ISBN: 0-688-11764-3

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1994

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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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