A mixed bag, with a fine piece about baseball at the apex but with otherwise too few memorable moments.

THE PATRON SAINT OF DREAMS

ESSAYS

Mannered essays, written to the academic creative-nonfiction formula, on hurricanes, spirits, death and other such weighty matters.

The formula: Start with a brief declaration; hint that the writer knows something the reader doesn’t; punctuate with a few one-sentence paragraphs, hortatory or expository; layer on a blend of arresting statistics and mundane observations. Thus, writes Gerard (Creative Writing/Univ. of North Carolina, Wilmington; Creative Nonfiction, 2004, etc.): “What they don’t tell you about hurricanes is the uncertainty”; “Her name is Maria”; “Some stories do not have an obvious, coherent narrative.” These are three representative opening sentences, all of which lead to tales about the capriciousness, sorrow and violence of life. Death is a constant, as are observations that death is just plain unfair; constant, too, are notes on the manifold ways in which people get caught up in events, yielding those hortatory and I-know-something-you-don’t turns—e.g., “Let me tell you about the daughter of another soldier…There is no need for you to know her name.” The best pieces in the book—and there are several very good ones here—are simple shaggy-dog stories involving government plots and ghosts, the sorts of things you might tell with cigars and scotch around a fire. The worst are workshop-esque exercises in philosophizing. One essay opens, for instance, with a yarn about James Dickey’s saying over lunch that “after the age of forty a man is responsible for his face,” an apercu that Dickey stole from George Orwell. That observation, repeated in a couple of variations, is really just an in-passing setup for a piece on scars, mortality and aging that struggles to get out from under its own commonplaceness.

A mixed bag, with a fine piece about baseball at the apex but with otherwise too few memorable moments.

Pub Date: March 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-891885-89-1

Page Count: 200

Publisher: Hub City Press

Review Posted Online: Jan. 16, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2012

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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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