A unique viewpoint on a topic worthy of discussion, but dense writing, poor construction and various inconsistencies...

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Is 'Black' Really Beautiful?

DEHUMANIZING ETHICS OF DESCRIPTIONS AND VILIFYING PHILOSOPHIES OF NAMING

Garang (Deng, Nyan-nhialdit and the Talking Crow, 2013, etc.) raises some interesting points in this convoluted argument for the recontextualization of black identity.

Starting with the ontology of black identity, moving into history and the realities of racism, and finishing with terminology and thought processes related to black people, Garang challenges the phrase “black is beautiful.” He argues that throughout modern history, “colorless” people have led “colored” people to view themselves from an inferior perspective so that, in effect, their initial perspective is biased toward negativity. Colored people (and people in general) have also been taught to think of the word “black” as being bad, with one of Garang’s examples being “when someone says that a black cat crossing one’s path is a bad luck.” Combining these negative pieces cannot produce a positive outcome, so, Garang says, black people must derive a new way of thinking about themselves, for their own benefit. Garang makes a few compelling points, including his opinion that “saying that ‘black is beautiful’ to mean I am beautiful…is a stupefying expression” because black and beauty are not linguistic synonyms. The writing and construction of his prose, however, often hurt his argument. For instance, he differentiates between different degrees of racially biased thinking as “Racism and racism”—a confusing distinction when read together. There’s also a perplexing use of italics indiscriminately applied single prepositions—“It is to be noted also that a sense of self doesn’t exclude men of the gods”—along with a few unpardonable errors: “She was assumed inferior…excluded from the anal of American society.” Similarly, in an effort to lighten his text, Garang inserts “Mid-Thought Pauses” that annoy more than illuminate.

A unique viewpoint on a topic worthy of discussion, but dense writing, poor construction and various inconsistencies severely limit the work’s merit.

Pub Date: Feb. 13, 2013

ISBN: 978-0991678945

Page Count: 178

Publisher: The Nile Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 19, 2013

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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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