A clear-eyed memoir of a golden time that lightened the years ahead.

READ REVIEW

A TASTE OF THE SWEET APPLE

A MEMOIR

The inaugural title in the nonprofit publisher’s Woodford Reserve Series in Kentucky Literature, Watson’s debut perfectly recalls the summer when a black foreman taught her how to set tobacco plants, chew the best dried leaf, and survive the sudden squalls that roiled her otherwise loving family.

The author nicely describes Grassy Spring Farm, where her kin raised horses, cattle, and some of the best tobacco in the world. The family had cultivated this land since the Civil War, and though Watson’s father was a doctor with a practice in town, he was also a farmer. Grassy Spring defined her childhood: “I did not want to separate myself from it and I grieved for my time there long before it was gone.” Though Watson moves back and forth in time to recall changes in her own life and the farm, the heart of her story concerns the summer she turned seven, in 1942. Always close to farm foreman Joe Collins, the girl became his helper and dreamed of being a farmer like him. She rode the tobacco setter with Joe, looked for guinea-hen feathers for his hat, ate lunch with him by the well. On the surface it seemed an earthly paradise peopled with agreeably eccentric relatives, a laundress who sang to the spirits, and a grocer called Ocean Frog, but there were intimations of lurking instability and tragedy. Watson’s beautiful mother, Sally Gay, grew flowers to find serenity; her father could be the best of companions, but he often became dangerously irascible, threatening everyone by pointing a gun that Joe had to wrestle away. Other dark moments would come, but memories of that transcendent summer endure.

A clear-eyed memoir of a golden time that lightened the years ahead.

Pub Date: Nov. 15, 2004

ISBN: 1-932511-08-3

Page Count: 232

Publisher: Sarabande

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2004

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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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