In parts memoir, travelogue, political treatise, and extended essay on the tangled question of what it means to be a Jew living outside of Israel. The founders of the state of Israel had hoped that all Jews would come ``home'' after some 2,000 years of exile. Yet 46 years after the birth of the state, less than half the world's Jews live there, and fewer Jews live in Israel than in the United States. Richler (Oh Canada! Oh Quebec!, 1992, etc.) offers no startling new insights into this phenomenon or into the growing split between Israeli Jews and those living in what is called the Diaspora. What he does offer is an intensely personal account of two journeys: one, of a teenager in Montreal who becomes an ardent Zionist in the years leading up to the creation of Israel in 1948; and two, of a Diaspora Jew in his 60s who visits Israel in 1992, measuring the state against his idealistic dreams of decades before, and measuring himself against the Israelis who had once been his teenage comrades in Canada. Making it clear that his sympathies lie with the left, Richler offers a clear picture of the modern state and its highly charged politics, based on numerous interviews and extensive reading. The more interesting parts of the book, however, have to do with Richler's personal engagement with Israel, even as he defends his choice to live in Canada. When a journalist tells Richler that he left the US because in Israel ``I am at home,'' Richler writes, ``But many of us, unapologetically Jewish, do feel at home in North America, the most open of societies.'' It is Richler's passionate, personal wrestling with this issue that sets this book apart from many others on the subject. A provocative and highly readable exploration of Israel in the mind of a Jew who has chosen not to live there, of interest primarily to other Jews aware that they have made the same decision.

Pub Date: Sept. 19, 1994

ISBN: 0-679-43610-3

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1994

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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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