A personal, somewhat overly romantic account of life far away from home.

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Glimpses through the Forest: Memories of Gabon

A former Peace Corps volunteer reminisces about life, love and the tropics during his three years in Gabon, where the people, the countryside and nature captured his heart.

For debut travel writer Gray, the coastal West African country of Gabon, a former French colony, was about the most extreme contrast to his native Montana he could have wished for. Tropical downpours, intense humidity, lush jungle and a tremendous variety of wildlife are the background to his daily existence as he helps develop a grade school education program. And the food—simple, deliciously fresh (such as fish grilled straight out of rivers), served in a variety of spicy sauces. Above all, the kindness and zest for life among the people enchant him most. They welcome him into their hearts and homes, and along the way, he finds that even without the material comforts of modern society, community bonds are cherished, and they enjoy life more than he could imagine. A wide-eyed Gray nearly bumps into a forest elephant, stares hippos in the eye, monitors sea turtles laying their eggs at night and nearly encounters a dangerous Nile crocodile. But not all was well during Gray’s posting. He witnesses a witchcraft tribunal, where an old, lonely woman was accused of transforming herself into different beasts and tormenting fellow villagers. After everyone was given the chance to have their say, the village elders pronounced their verdict, which was aimed at keeping harmony among the community. Steering clear of politics, Gray is careful to keep an open, objective mind about the customs. At the center of the country is oil revenue, but, with only passing references made to the presence of international companies, Gray’s efforts to avoid political controversy lead him to give no opinion on the matter—a shortcoming of this otherwise engaging portrait of a society caught between ancient and modern ways.

A personal, somewhat overly romantic account of life far away from home.  

Pub Date: May 8, 2013

ISBN: 978-1935925309

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Peace Corps Writers

Review Posted Online: July 23, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2013

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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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