A finely introspective work for lovers of nature and Thoreau.

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Silhouettes and Seasons

ESSAYS AND IMAGES OF A PERSONAL NATURE

Poetic personal essays and reflections on life, featuring nature as a teacher, theme and metaphor.

LaRizzio (Hey Milkman!, 2011) presents his personal observations on many of life’s key moments, using the idea of nature as a recurring theme. With the studied eye of a landscape painter, he offers deeply personal takes on the seasons, wildlife, modern-day living, sunrise and sunset, the sounds of nature, the art of writing, a place called Mt. Laurel, and the rain, snow and wind, among many other topics. He divides the work into several chapters by year of composition, beginning in 1994 and continuing through 2000, and further organizes the pieces by season and month. He includes black-and-white photographs throughout, giving a sense of both a journey and a journal. LaRizzio assumes the voices of such great transcendentalist writers as Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau, and he proves to be an able naturalist and philosopher himself: “We are living life at an isolating distance,” he writes, contrasting the beauty of nature with the artificial lives of the modern era. Many first-person observations resonate: “I step outside into the brittleness of the evening air and absolve myself from the oppressive claim of the office. The darkness is pervasive, pouring its heavy chill into the empty spaces that dominate the winter-laden land”; “I’ve come to know the snow as crystallized silence.” Like a book of watercolor sketches, each essay displays LaRizzio’s maturing skills as a descriptive narrator. The occasional overuse of alliteration (“Man surrenders himself to prayer, practice, and preach; to sermon, solemnity, and psalm”) is easily forgiven as the author migrates to rhymed poetry and re-emphasizes his central theme: “I surrender myself to the ethereal breeze, the dawn’s subtle tease that romances the flowers and dances the leaves. I celebrate the liturgy of the morning damp.” In poetic fashion, the book highlights the religion of Mother Nature and prods modern-day unbelievers to examine their own creeds.

A finely introspective work for lovers of nature and Thoreau.

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 2013

ISBN: 978-1457522703

Page Count: 188

Publisher: Dog Ear

Review Posted Online: Jan. 10, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2014

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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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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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