THE WORD WOMAN

AND OTHER RELATED WRITINGS

Laura (Riding) Jackson (1901-91) is being rediscovered with a vengeance: Within 18 months of her death, her early unpublished poems, her selected poems, a biography, and this collection of prose pieces (most previously unpublished) will have appeared. The central essays here, ``The Word `Woman,' '' takes up over half the volume. Written in Mallorca in the mid-1930's, the manuscript was abandoned there with the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War and returned to Jackson only in the 1970's. In the essay, she proposes to ``extricate'' woman from male mythological and historical perceptions of her, to examine the differences between the sexes to explain ``not only woman herself, but man as well,'' and to ``establish, finally, the unity of all being.'' Jackson is an arch dogmatist, proceeding by sweeping knowledge, uncorrupted by the historical realities, and her conclusion (``To be a woman finally is to be truth'') falls a little flat on a late-20th- century ear. But the essay does provide insight into her struggle as a woman writer against the effort of her long-time companion, Robert Graves, to capture her as his ``muse.'' Written decades after their breakup, her 1975 essay on Graves's treatise The White Goddess betrays the persistence of her effort to ``extricate'' her imagination from Graves's equally persistent mythologizing of ``woman.'' Also included here are an affected and unsatisfying short story, ``Woman as People''; a brisk parable, ``Eve's Side of It''; and a forbiddingly abstract 1974 piece entitled ``The Sex Factor in Social Progress.'' Unlike previous reprints of her stories and poetry, this collection exhibits neither the wit nor the genius that Jackson always claimed for herself, and that many others claim for her. For the cognoscenti only.

Pub Date: May 3, 1993

ISBN: 0-89255-184-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1993

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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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