A cancer survivor’s affecting and elegantly composed remembrance.




A woman recollects her frightening confrontation with leukemia and the ways in which it changed her outlook on life. 

Debut author Lee was born in 1962 on the far-flung island of Guam in the Pacific; as a result, her happy childhood was largely insulated from the political tumult and cultural upheaval that engulfed the U.S. mainland. Her upbringing was far from common, though—she was raised in a classic pagoda-style home, a 24,000-square-foot “fortress” that housed a large multigenerational clan that included her parents, six siblings, grandparents, and extended family. In addition, the head of the clan, her grandfather, was a successful businessman who openly kept a second wife and family in China. The horizons of the author’s unusual, if cloistered, childhood were expanded when she spent summers in Manila and San Francisco—the latter became her “Shangri-La,” an idealized representation of freedom and sophistication, and she eventually moved there to attend college. But Lee’s world was shattered by a sudden illness—in 1988, she become increasingly sick and then suffered a stroke. She eventually learned she was suffering from leukemia and could only be saved by a combination of radiation, chemotherapy, and a bone marrow transplant, which would prevent her from having children should she survive. The author, writing in deeply introspective prose, astutely examines the ways in which the disease compelled a revision of her worldview, puncturing the illusions of her youth. She turned to her family, especially her mother, for consolation amid her trials, a dependence she writes of affectingly: “I am also certain that if I had died, the mere sound of my mother’s voice would have sustained and guided me through whatever stages were ahead. The strength and power in her words would have been a beacon.” Lee’s story is a poignantly inspirational one—after her recovery, she became a patient advocate, intent on helping others. Her memoir is notably forthcoming and meditatively sensitive—with a gimlet-eye, she limns both tragedy and her triumph over it to find a meaning that encompasses both.

A cancer survivor’s affecting and elegantly composed remembrance. 

Pub Date: Dec. 29, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-692-14242-4

Page Count: 227

Publisher: Pisces Press San Francisco

Review Posted Online: March 7, 2019

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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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Analyzing his craft, a careful craftsman urges with Thoreauvian conviction that writers should simplify, simplify, simplify.


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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