For its intended audience, this collection will be a welcome souvenir.

THE BROWN READER

50 WRITERS REMEMBER COLLEGE HILL

A gathering of memories marks Brown’s 250th anniversary.

In celebration of her alma mater, educator and editor Judy Sternlight (class of ’82) has collected essays by writers, poets and artists who attended Brown since the 1950s. Most are warm remembrances of the quirkiest of the Ivy League colleges, boasting a “loosey-goosey, roll-with-it curriculum”: no core requirements, a liberal pass/fail policy and encouragement of independent study. Admissions criteria focused more on creativity than test scores. “I wasn’t supposed to make it to a place like Brown,” writes Jonathan Mooney (’00), whose dyslexia resulted in mediocre high school grades. At Brown, he writes, “I wasn’t the dumb kid anymore. I learned that I never was.” Many contributors bring up common teenage concerns: friends, self-image, sex, etc. Although some students found kindred spirits and even love, others felt marginalized by differences of race or class. A few professors earn special praise: John Hawkes, for one, impressed novelist Meg Wolitzer (’81) by creating an “open, unguarded, and charitable environment” in his workshops. Joanna Scott (’85 AM) recounts a memorable dinner with visiting professor Susan Sontag, whom students nicknamed “the Duchess.” Political and social activism was prominent in some students’ experiences: Ira Magaziner (’69) recalls the student uprisings that instigated dramatic curricular change. Among the book’s other notable contributors are Susan Cheever (’65), Jeffrey Eugenides (’82), Edwidge Danticat (’93 MFA), children’s author Lois Lowry (’58), Marilynne Robinson (’66), A.J. Jacobs (’90), David Shields (’78) and Rick Moody (’83). To interest readers other than Brown alumnae, Sternlight might have provided some college history (when, for example, was Pembroke, the women’s college, merged with Brown? How have Brown’s demographics changed over the years?), and rather than relegate contributors’ bios to the end, she could have placed them as headnotes, where they would provide useful context.

For its intended audience, this collection will be a welcome souvenir.

Pub Date: May 20, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4767-6519-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: March 6, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2014

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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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DEAR MR. HENSHAW

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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