A touching story of hope, courage, generosity and the resiliency of children.

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CHILDREN OF THE MANSE

In the 1940s, one family adopts four abandoned siblings in this true and tender recollection written by the eldest son.

When a health issue triggers a search for their biological family’s medical history, the author and his sister, now middle-aged, sift through a bureaucratic haystack of adoption records and letters from the county home where they, and their two siblings, had spent two grim years. Even before that lowly stretch in the county’s care, the Luchs children had a chaotic home life with their alcoholic father—a petty criminal who, after serving time in prison, disappeared from their lives—and their unstable mother, who frequently abandoned them. But enter a compassionate social worker who, at young Luchs’ insistence, promised to keep the children together and found a loving and well-educated Presbyterian minister and his wife who unflinchingly welcomed all four into their comfortable home. Descriptive details abound, bringing the book to life through its many charming stories, usually involving Janey, the youngest of the family. As the eldest, the author has a keener memory of the neglect and abuses that he and his siblings endured, and, thus, bears the deepest scars. While cherishing the handful of happy times he had with his biological father, Luchs recounts his conflicted feelings for the man, and that Luchs forlornly held out hope that he would see him again. The author does an admirable job of examining the complex emotions he has toward his biological and adoptive parents and describes his struggle to fully embrace his adoptive parents and relinquish his role as surrogate parent to his siblings. This well-written, honest book would be best suited for those who have an interest in the adoption system of the past, or for those who enjoy the Chicken Soup for the Soul series.

A touching story of hope, courage, generosity and the resiliency of children.

Pub Date: Jan. 2, 2011

ISBN: 978-0578035239

Page Count: 306

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: March 10, 2011

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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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