Autobiography of a dharma bum, told in one-page vignettes and essays, each focusing on an epiphany of some sort. Countercultural life of the 50's and 60's forms the background of this memory grab bag by Delattre (Walking on Air, 1980; Tales of a Dalai Lama, 1971), a former ordained Presbyterian minister who once criticized his congregation by calling the institutional church ``the greatest impediment to spiritual life in America.'' Delattre's stunned congregation so welcomed the criticism that it let him open an experimental coffee-house ministry on San Francisco's Telegraph Hill, where he became ``a kind of nondenominational street priest'' for beatniks and Zen folk looking for beatitude. Delattre first found his own satori when a sick friend announced the hour of his death and then died on schedule, holding the author's hand: ``I felt a hot electric surge flow up my arm, flower in my mind, charge my whole body with such an urge to laugh that I could hardly control myself.'' Serving spaghetti, coffee, bread, and wine to some 300 people nightly at the Telegraph Hill mission, Delattre became known as ``the beatnik priest'' and was heralded by features in Time, Newsweek, and The New York Times. But bad habits pursued him and things fell apart (including the first two of Delattre's three marriages). Appearing throughout his pages here are Allen Ginsberg, Neal Cassady, Bill Graham, Charles de Gaulle, Richard Brautigan, Albert Schweitzer, Nikos Kazantzakis, and the Dalai Lama and Tibetan priests, among others. At one point, MGM calls Delattre in as a consultant on the filming of Jack Kerouac's The Subterraneans, in which Gerry Mulligan played the author as a jazz-priest. Pleasurable but familiar fare that might move younger readers more than older.

Pub Date: July 19, 1993

ISBN: 1-55597-180-6

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Graywolf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 1993

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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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