A heartfelt but ultimately tedious journey of discovery for two corporate execs who shuck the rat race and hit the road. The whirl of publishing had finally gotten to Abraham (most recently vice president and editor in chief at Simon & Schuster Trade Paperbacks) and her husband, Sandy. They wanted to scale back, grab ahold of their lives. They bought an RV (Abraham never claims to be another Kerouac, and besides, Sandy had once contracted armpit crabs in an Alaskan dive, so they wanted a secure cocoon), rented out their home, and pointed west by northwest. What follows is the story of their trip from New York City to Alaska, then back to the East Coast. Abraham might have hoped that rubbing lunchtime shoulders with writers would transmit some of their magic to her, but it didn't. Her writing is self-conscious and clunky, though also disarmingly, agreeably frank, her regional impressions worn right there on her sleeve. She conveys an urbanite's surprised thrill at Manitoba's checkered plains and falls deeply in awe of Alaska's grandness, which leads her to tune in to the music of the spheres, to feel time expand. Abraham expands as well, delighting in the pleasures of her mate, food, and corporate-world-bashing. But as she tends south and east, the old bogeymen haunt her again: where to live, how to pay the bills. Westward she searched for circadian rhythms, eastward she scours real estate, the escapee becoming the wanabee. Colorado? Santa Fe? No longer kicked-back or wide-eyed, Abraham is as frantic to find a new home as she ever was back at the salt mines, the leaden prose whining and grating, her urgency without appeal. Abraham the dreamer felt cut from honest cloth; Abraham the overachiever, who has won out by book's end, is a bad copy.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 1997

ISBN: 0-440-50757-X

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Dell

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 1996

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...



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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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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