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From the Errors of Others


A clever, engaging, and delightful look at how people can be lax with the written and spoken word.

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A lively, humorous debut compendium of communication don’ts.

In this highly readable debut, Lyles, a business-communication consultant with three decades of technical writing experience, documents the many misspellings, grammatical blunders, and ill-advised expressions that bedevil business writing and speech. The very short, self-contained essays make it easy to consume the book a few pages at a time. The author offers short chapters that specifically address public speaking, advertising, and wordplay, among other areas. Along the way, she covers a wide range of common errors, from the general (when to use “principle” or “principal,” for example) to the business-specific (how to create appropriate text for a presentation slide) to the everyday (examples of grammatically incorrect newspaper headlines). This multitude of examples is impressive enough, but the author’s keen observations are what lift the book above an ordinary collection of bloopers. Lyles has the ability to highlight the most egregious errors while also treating them with good humor rather than snarky sarcasm. In “Telltale Signs,” for example, she refers to actual signs she’s seen and answers them with signs of her own. For example, she answers “Shirts and Shoes Must be Worn” with “But Your Pants Can Be Brand New” and “Prepare to Stop When Flashing” with “At Least Button Trench Coat.” Her take on online-dating phrases is perceptive and hilarious; for instance, she says that when a man writes that he enjoys “Long walks on the beach…quiet evenings by the fire…candlelight dinners at home,” he really means “I’m cheap and I’ll never take you anywhere. And I expect you to cook.” Lyles is also sensitive to inflated speech patterns; she warns readers of potentially deceptive qualifiers, such as “To be perfectly honest” and “If you want to know the truth,” among others. This is an amusing, on-target collection crafted in a way that makes it easy to laugh at one’s own shortcomings.

A clever, engaging, and delightful look at how people can be lax with the written and spoken word. 

Pub Date: May 24, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4808-2847-6

Page Count: 394

Publisher: Archway Publishing

Review Posted Online: Nov. 17, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2016

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This is not the Nutcracker sweet, as passed on by Tchaikovsky and Marius Petipa. No, this is the original Hoffmann tale of 1816, in which the froth of Christmas revelry occasionally parts to let the dark underside of childhood fantasies and fears peek through. The boundaries between dream and reality fade, just as Godfather Drosselmeier, the Nutcracker's creator, is seen as alternately sinister and jolly. And Italian artist Roberto Innocenti gives an errily realistic air to Marie's dreams, in richly detailed illustrations touched by a mysterious light. A beautiful version of this classic tale, which will captivate adults and children alike. (Nutcracker; $35.00; Oct. 28, 1996; 136 pp.; 0-15-100227-4)

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 1996

ISBN: 0-15-100227-4

Page Count: 136

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1996

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An extravaganza in Bemelmans' inimitable vein, but written almost dead pan, with sly, amusing, sometimes biting undertones, breaking through. For Bemelmans was "the man who came to cocktails". And his hostess was Lady Mendl (Elsie de Wolfe), arbiter of American decorating taste over a generation. Lady Mendl was an incredible person,- self-made in proper American tradition on the one hand, for she had been haunted by the poverty of her childhood, and the years of struggle up from its ugliness,- until she became synonymous with the exotic, exquisite, worshipper at beauty's whrine. Bemelmans draws a portrait in extremes, through apt descriptions, through hilarious anecdote, through surprisingly sympathetic and understanding bits of appreciation. The scene shifts from Hollywood to the home she loved the best in Versailles. One meets in passing a vast roster of famous figures of the international and artistic set. And always one feels Bemelmans, slightly offstage, observing, recording, commenting, illustrated.

Pub Date: Feb. 23, 1955

ISBN: 0670717797

Page Count: -

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 25, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1955

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