Although Baker sometimes strains when he directly addresses his concerns and predilections, it takes a rare combination of...

THE SIZE OF THOUGHTS

Showing off Baker's Sears catalog eclecticism and word-playfulness, this collection is congenial kin to his thoughtful, fiddly novels The Mezzanine and Room Temperature rather than the garrulously oversexed Vox.

These essays and other "lumber" (in its English sense) show off Baker's ideas of scale and subject matter, loosely categorized under rubrics the likes of "Thought," "Machinery," and "Library Science." In Baker's fastidiously discursive approach, the more obscure or minute the subject—such as model airplanes, nail clippers, punctuation marks, slang terminology, or typos—the longer and deeper he goes. His entertaining piece on the movie projector focuses on the transition from reel-to-reel projectors to the modern oversized platter systems, then zooms in on the crucial Maltese cross, the tiny, remarkably precise moving part that drives both. In a lighter study he deciphers and itemizes the books used by upscale furniture companies as props in their mail-order catalogs. An article on the history of punctuation fixes such picayune marks as the ancient cryphia or the medieval pilcrow within the history of Western writing. The collection's two longest pieces reveal the tensions and complements of his antiquarianism and gadget-mania: respectively, cyberspace's on-line library catalogs and the etymology and literary history of the word lumber. In the former, Baker sometimes loses his perspective in the debate over card catalogs versus Boolean-search-driven databases, jumbling nostalgia and practicality. The latter is, at 140 pages, an indulgent tour de force, and also a metaphor for eclectic learning, as he browses through Pope, Johnson, Webster, etc., for lumber's meanings.

Although Baker sometimes strains when he directly addresses his concerns and predilections, it takes a rare combination of wit and effort to seem this facile without actually being so.

Pub Date: April 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-679-43932-3

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1996

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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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MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. AND THE MARCH ON WASHINGTON

This early reader is an excellent introduction to the March on Washington in 1963 and the important role in the march played by Martin Luther King Jr. Ruffin gives the book a good, dramatic start: “August 28, 1963. It is a hot summer day in Washington, D.C. More than 250,00 people are pouring into the city.” They have come to protest the treatment of African-Americans here in the US. With stirring original artwork mixed with photographs of the events (and the segregationist policies in the South, such as separate drinking fountains and entrances to public buildings), Ruffin writes of how an end to slavery didn’t mark true equality and that these rights had to be fought for—through marches and sit-ins and words, particularly those of Dr. King, and particularly on that fateful day in Washington. Within a year the Civil Rights Act of 1964 had been passed: “It does not change everything. But it is a beginning.” Lots of visual cues will help new readers through the fairly simple text, but it is the power of the story that will keep them turning the pages. (Easy reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-448-42421-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2000

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