SHADOWS IN MY HANDS

A SOUTHWESTERN ODYSSEY

An elliptically told journey to selfhood through a landscape of transcendent beauty, lyrically evoked by a recipient of two Western Heritage Awards for her writing. In loosely sequential but self-contained essays, Coleman (Stories from Mesa Country, 1991, etc.) describes how early visits to the Southwest—where she ``set out to learn the people, the mysteries, with the unwitting help of an old man, Archie, grandson of pioneer settlers''—would ultimately change her life. There, the author ``forged a bond'' with this old man in a place where ``the mountains turned crimson in the twilight and the months of summer shimmered in the sun.'' Every year she returned with her family ``to its people, its horses, its clear beauty high in the mountains loved above all others; the place that for six years and in the absence of another, I called home.'' Coleman participated fully in the life there: rounding up cattle from mountain pastures, helping brand them, and driving trucks. Later, when her marriage broke up, she acknowledged that she'd become ``an uncomprehending victim of psychological and verbal abuse'' who'd nonetheless ``managed to preserve the core of self'' where she existed. She walked out of her house, pointed her car toward the West, and—with grants to research the life of Mattie Earp, second wife of Wyatt—traveled through the small towns of the region, then rented `` `Rancho Milagro,' Miracle Ranch'' in Arizona—a ``place that is the essence of timelessness.'' But the author's journey reached its apogee on the desolate ranch she finally bought, a ``place of instant recognition.'' There, she settled, ``put down roots, planted trees and a garden,'' and wrote ``the words that demand release.'' At times mannered but redeemed by Coleman's fierce—and eloquently expressed—love for a place of austere beauty and the ``thunderous presence of the natural world.''

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 1993

ISBN: 0-8040-0972-4

Page Count: 117

Publisher: Swallow Press/Ohio Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1993

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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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