An unfailingly optimistic take on the quintessential American success story.

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The Door Had Never Been Locked

AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A PSYCHIATRIST

An intriguing, upbeat memoir of an Argentinian doctor coming to America to practice his craft.

When 27-year-old Leo Grieben arrived at New York’s Idlewild Airport from his native Buenos Aires in January 1960, he had $215 in his wallet and the promise of a neurosurgery fellowship at Boston’s Lahey Clinic. The move was difficult for the young graduate of the Universidad de Buenos Aires’ medical school, but he willingly joined “the Argentine exodus” because “Argentina, the country I had been born and raised in, was going to the dogs.” He left behind his wife, Blanca, and his children, and decided to assess the situation in Boston by himself first, after a brief stopover in New York where he quickly learned the golden rule of all U.S. travelers: “[W]hen in New York, do what New Yorkers do.” At the Lahey Clinic, and at Boston’s various hotels and boardinghouses, he faced the challenges that confront all immigrants, from difficulties communicating with a thick accent to simply dealing with loneliness. His accounts of letters to and from Argentina are a touching reminder of the days before e-mail. Eventually his family joins him, and the memoir tells the story of his steadily improving medical career, which takes him from Boston to Minnesota, and includes plenty of warm character portraits and well-told anecdotes. One of the book’s most gripping interludes is a nerve-wracking return trip to Argentina, which proves the melancholy dictum that one can’t go home again. At another point, Grieben has a heart attack while on an outing with his family but his medical training allows him to advise his wife on what to do; this and other stories show the author’s keen awareness of the relatively primitive state of medicine in the 1960s. Through it all, however, Grieben never loses his sunny outlook or his puckish sense of humor.

An unfailingly optimistic take on the quintessential American success story.

Pub Date: Dec. 3, 2013

ISBN: 978-0615800837

Page Count: 366

Publisher: Leo Grieben

Review Posted Online: Feb. 14, 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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