Tons of tragicomic wisdom packed into a short memoir.



Obsessive-compulsive disorder is no laughing matter. Unless laughter is your best defense against it.

In this slim work of nonfiction, debut writer Jordan, a longtime OCD sufferer, is by turns humorous, snarky, angry and thoughtful. This is a personal and anecdotal account of what OCD is and what it’s like to suffer from it 24/7. The book has an interesting and telling provenance. In late 2012, Jordan was at the end of his rope: dead-end job, junker car and few friends. So his friend Tony—we should all have friends like Tony—challenged him to write a book in 30 days. This is that book. In a work like this, voice is all-important. Who is this guy who has buttonholed us? Well, he’s a chatty and good, accessible writer when he’s on his game. He is likable; the reader will probably root for him. Each chapter is a sort of running commentary on the disease itself, the mental health system, therapies, others’ reactions and so forth. And each chapter ends with a particular anecdote under the heading “Great Moment in OCD History.” Some of these are horrifying (from the OCD sufferer’s point of view), but most also show the sufferer’s courage and mordant humor. The book is somewhat repetitious. We are all aware of the OCD obsession with germs, real and imagined, and compulsive hand-washing. For Jordan, public restrooms are like Dante’s lowest circle of hell. But after the third or fourth example, the reader more than gets it. Jordan, a committed Christian, has struggled to come to terms with OCD and with God. Is he angry? Well, he has been. But God, he is told, is strong enough to take a lot of abuse. And then he says, “Maybe I needed to be broken....Being broken sucks, there is no getting around it, but once you are broken, you can be rebuilt into something better.”

Tons of tragicomic wisdom packed into a short memoir.

Pub Date: July 2, 2013

ISBN: 978-1482530223

Page Count: 90

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Oct. 11, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2013

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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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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...



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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