A jaunty glimpse into the cities and countryside of Central America from the point of view of a traveler well-equipped to...

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WALKING THE AMERICAS

1,800 MILES, EIGHT COUNTRIES, AND ONE INCREDIBLE JOURNEY FROM MEXICO TO COLOMBIA

The British explorer’s latest trek takes him by foot from Mexico to the edge of Colombia.

The book's title might be misleading, as Wood (Walking the Himalayas, 2016, etc.) notes in the introduction: this trip was “solely a journey through Central America.” The author was joined by Alberto Caceres, a recently divorced Mexican friend who had “never been in a jungle, or walked further than a few miles.” Despite a few blisters, however, and more than a few complaints, the chatty Caceres, who could “charm the hind legs off a donkey,” kept up the pace. Sometimes on uncharted paths and often on major highways where the main obstacles they faced were drunken drivers and thoughtless truckers, the two covered 1,800 miles in a little over four months. Wood excels at verbal snapshots of the differences among the countries, and he avoids dwelling on the monotony of many of the days in favor of describing more exciting ones spent diving into caves where they discovered Mayan skulls, climbing unnamed pyramids, eating termites (“bitter and woody”) during a lesson on jungle survival, getting caught in quicksand, and being escorted through the gang-ruled barrios of Honduras' San Pedro Sula, which until recently “held the dubious honor of being known as the murder capital of the world.” While this means that readers only get tantalizing glimpses into the author’s experience, it also makes for brisk reading. The narrative culminates with a trek through the jungles of Panama's Darién Gap, an area ruled by drug lords that has, during the past 20 years, “swallowed up more people than perhaps anywhere else in the western hemisphere.” Fortunately, Wood and Caceres made it through the “brutal, skin-tearing, lung-busting jungle climbs” with nothing worse than some nasty spider bites.

A jaunty glimpse into the cities and countryside of Central America from the point of view of a traveler well-equipped to compare life there to other countries around the globe.

Pub Date: March 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-8021-2749-5

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Atlantic Monthly

Review Posted Online: Dec. 24, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2018

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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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