A searing memoir of family ties that bind all too cruelly.

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DARK OF THE MOON

An impoverished girl in Portugal endures a hellish childhood in this moving autobiography.

Talk about being born under a cloud–the author was conceived when her mother Angelina, a housemaid in a tiny Portuguese village, was raped by an employer. Her prospects ruined, Angelina abandons Maria to her parents’ care. On her rare visits, she can barely bring herself to acknowledge her daughter’s existence. Maria’s first eight years with her doting grandparents seem idyllic, but when her grandmother dies she goes to live with Angelina and her new family. There Angelina’s resentment at the daughter who embodies her trauma and shame flares into outright hatred. Maria is ignored or treated like a slave, beaten for the slightest mistake, poked and scalded and fed rotten leftovers while Angelina and her common-law husband and their children feast on fresh food. Her terror and loneliness are heartbreaking, but she never loses her spirit. Through all the abuse she vows to get an education and find a way out of her miserable straits. The drama subsides a bit after Maria, seizing every break she can get, emigrates to Canada. She drifts through jobs and relationships and finally settles into a contented marriage, but her longing to discover her father and come to terms with her mother persists. Trautman’s lightly fictionalized account of her youth is vivid and gripping. Her enchanting portrait of life in her grandparents’ village sets up a shocking contrast with the grim and gritty confines of her mother’s Lisbon apartment. Angelina is a memorable character–at times she’s almost a fairy-tale ogress, but readers feel the sense of humiliation and dispossession that fuels her rage at her flesh and blood. The author’s luminous prose tells this story with immediacy and pathos.

A searing memoir of family ties that bind all too cruelly.

Pub Date: Sept. 4, 2009

ISBN: 978-1-4415-6787-1

Page Count: -

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: Dec. 23, 2010

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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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