Innumerable anecdotes, scenic vistas, and local events, mostly interesting, punctuated by horrific car-bomb explosions.



A fast-paced tour of the six counties of Northern Ireland.

In 1997, British journalist Fletcher (Almost Heaven, not reviewed) was assigned by the Times of London to cover the peace talks between Irish Protestants and Catholics. While his family lived safely in Belfast’s suburbs, he criss-crossed the country. He begins along the east coast, where the population is declining despite the natural beauty and relative peace. Donaghadee, “a town as pretty as its name,” has lost its seaside tourist trade to the inexpensive beaches of Spain with their guaranteed sunshine. The eerie Mourne Mountains, which inspired C.S. Lewis's Narnia series, have a man-made 20-mile stone walkway at their base. Fletcher has a taste for the rich and famous. He visits Van Morrison's modest childhood home in East Belfast. He interviews touring flutist James Galway, who fled the Troubles to settle in Switzerland. At the Portora Royal School, he views portraits of Oscar Wilde and 1923 cricket-squad member Samuel Beckett. Inland, Fletcher finds unique Irish activities. In Portadena, he listens to large Protestant men beat 40-pound Lambeg drums, trying to pick up subtle differences in their resonances. In Armagh, he follows two road-bowling matches, during which men roll and spin 28-ounce iron balls from town to town in as few throws as possible. He goes eel fishing, a traditionally Catholic occupation, on Lough Neagh; the prized catch is frozen and shipped to connoisseurs in Holland and Germany. Few pages pass without reference to the Troubles. While the peace accord of Good Friday 1998 seems to be holding, mothers remember their murdered sons and husbands, communities mourn their lost children, and the wounded heal from devastating injuries. Lovely poetry from the famous and the obscure conveys the Irish heartache.

Innumerable anecdotes, scenic vistas, and local events, mostly interesting, punctuated by horrific car-bomb explosions.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2002

ISBN: 0-349-11251-7

Page Count: 306

Publisher: Abacus/Trafalgar

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2001

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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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