Somewhat scattershot, but Doidge’s personal stories, enthusiasm for his subject and admiration for its researchers keep the...

READ REVIEW

THE BRAIN THAT CHANGES ITSELF

STORIES OF PERSONAL TRIUMPH FROM THE FRONTIERS OF BRAIN SCIENCE

A collection of anecdotes about doctors and patients demonstrating that the human brain is capable of undergoing remarkable changes.

Research psychiatrist and psychoanalyst Doidge (Columbia Univ. Psychoanalytic Center) calls this growing awareness of the brain’s adaptability “the neuroplastic revolution,” and he profiles scientists whose work in neuroplasticity has changed people’s lives. He begins with Paul Bach-y-Rita, a pioneer in brain plasticity who has helped stroke victims improve their balance and walking. Doidge also interviews Michael Merzenich, a researcher and inventor who claims that brain exercises may be as useful as drugs in treating schizophrenia and has also developed training programs for the learning-disabled and the aging. The author talks with V.S. Ramachandran, a neurologist successful in treating phantom-limb pain, and he visits the Salk Laboratories in La Jolla, Calif., to report on the implications of current research on human neuronal stem cells. Some stories focus on nonscientists, such as the brain-damaged woman who developed her own brain exercises and then founded a Toronto school for children with learning disabilities, and a woman who functions well and has extraordinary calculating skills despite her brain having virtually no left hemisphere. The author draws on his own psychoanalytic practice to illustrate how the brain’s plasticity can also create problems, e.g., when early childhood trauma causes massive change in a patient’s hippocampus. One appendix explores the issue of how culture shapes the brain and is shaped by it; another takes a brief look at changing ideas about human nature and its perfectibility.

Somewhat scattershot, but Doidge’s personal stories, enthusiasm for his subject and admiration for its researchers keep the reader engaged.

Pub Date: March 19, 2007

ISBN: 0-670-03830-X

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2006

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Analyzing his craft, a careful craftsman urges with Thoreauvian conviction that writers should simplify, simplify, simplify.

SEVERAL SHORT SENTENCES ABOUT WRITING

New York Times columnist and editorial board member delivers a slim book for aspiring writers, offering saws and sense, wisdom and waggery, biases and biting sarcasm.

Klinkenborg (Timothy; or, Notes of an Abject Reptile, 2006), who’s taught for decades, endeavors to keep things simple in his prose, and he urges other writers to do the same. (Note: He despises abuses of the word as, as he continually reminds readers.) In the early sections, the author ignores traditional paragraphing so that the text resembles a long free-verse poem. He urges readers to use short, clear sentences and to make sure each one is healthy before moving on; notes that it’s acceptable to start sentences with and and but; sees benefits in diagramming sentences; stresses that all writing is revision; periodically blasts the formulaic writing that many (most?) students learn in school; argues that knowing where you’re headed before you begin might be good for a vacation, but not for a piece of writing; and believes that writers must trust readers more, and trust themselves. Most of Klinkenborg’s advice is neither radical nor especially profound (“Turn to the poets. / Learn from them”), and the text suffers from a corrosive fallacy: that if his strategies work for him they will work for all. The final fifth of the text includes some passages from writers he admires (McPhee, Oates, Cheever) and some of his students’ awkward sentences, which he treats analytically but sometimes with a surprising sarcasm that veers near meanness. He includes examples of students’ dangling modifiers, malapropisms, errors of pronoun agreement, wordiness and other mistakes.

Analyzing his craft, a careful craftsman urges with Thoreauvian conviction that writers should simplify, simplify, simplify.

Pub Date: Aug. 7, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-307-26634-7

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2012

Did you like this book?

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

Did you like this book?

more