RELOCATIONS OF THE SPIRIT

Thoughts on Afro-American writers, artists, and sports figures by novelist Forrest (Two Wings to Veil My Face, 1984, etc.), assembled largely from magazines such as The Carleton Miscellany and Callalloo and from book reviews in the Chicago Tribune and elsewhere. Aside from biographical delights about his home in Chicago, Forrest covers the expected territory: Toni Morrison, Ralph Ellison, Billie Holiday, poet Sterling Brown, James Baldwin, Roland Kirk, Jackie Robinson, Faulkner's treatment of blacks, musings on Michael Jordan—and white writers such as Jorge Luis Borges and John Gardner, whose The Art of Fiction he compares with Dostoyevsky's notebooks, James's The Art of the Novel, and Forster's Aspects of the Novel, a comparison that is meaningful only in kind, not in ideas. Forrest's heaviest efforts focus on Faulkner: ``Reinvention is a primary attribute of intelligence, identity, and endurance in the character make-up of many memorable black figures in...The Sound and the Fury: Dilsey, Deacon, Louis Hatcher, and Reverend Shegog. I believe that this major Afro- American cultural attribute—reinvention—was also used by Faulkner as a salient and ironic instrument of structural linkage to reveal the discontinuities and failure of Quentin Compson...and the decline of the South.'' This is lit-crit of a milder sort, not so dense that you can't more or less follow it, and yet it raises the question: Do you want to? We sense that Faulkner himself would not get past the essay's title—``Faulkner/Reforestation.'' A lively interview with Ralph Ellison subjects Ellison to more structural salience, linkage, and ``metaphorical patterning, ``under a viscous dose of Kenneth Burke's ``formula of purpose, passion and perception.'' Some may call it luminous, others windy.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 1994

ISBN: 1-55921-068-0

Page Count: 256

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 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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