NOMAD

ONE WOMAN'S JOURNEY INTO THE HEART OF AFRICA

Fitzgerald—born in Africa but now living in Britain—makes her American debut with this sometimes offbeat yet still wrenching account of the many pestilences ravaging Africa. As the African correspondent for the London Times and the Independent, Fitzgerald, along with her two daughters, had long made her home in Kenya. But in 1988, she was deported on what she says was a fabricated charge, almost certainly a result of the pieces she had written criticizing Kenyan leader Daniel Moi. This abrupt rupture provoked ``a situation so awful that `mid-life crisis' was an inadequate description,'' forcing Fitzgerald and others like her to become ``nomads travelling an uncertain route.'' Heeding Pascal's reflection that travel diverts us from despair, she made London her base and became a correspondent for the British Sunday Times. Here, she discusses Kenya's widespread human-rights abuses and corruption: A typical experience was that of the Danish government, whose $40 million gift to establish a rural development program disappeared without a trace; the war and famine in Ethiopia, ``where a sinister war machine was steamrolling back and forth across the carcass of a ravaged land''; the problems of poaching in the Central African Republic, an angry place that ``had known only dictatorship and dependency''; and the nasty war in Liberia, where atrocities turned entire towns into morgues. Paralleling these stories is her own personal odyssey, including visiting traditional healers, acquiring a fetish, and sacrificing a live chicken. Finally, Fitzgerald realized that ``home wasn't a place'' and, like the nomads, she was free—and ready to write this book. A riveting portrait of the endemic brutality and heartbreaking beauty that is the compelling paradox of contemporary Africa. (Eight pages of b&w photographs—not seen)

Pub Date: June 1, 1993

ISBN: 0-670-84846-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1993

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DEAR MR. HENSHAW

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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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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