A highly engaging memoir of flying the not-so-friendly skies.

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Angels Ten!

MEMOIRS OF A WWII SPITFIRE PILOT

An airman recalls his brushes with death—including four crashes while serving as a fighter pilot—in this sharply pitched World War II memoir.

Born in Vancouver but raised in England, Gilman enlisted in the Royal Air Force at the tender age of 18. Even before entering combat, he learned that flying could be a deadly proposition. One friend perished in a fiery wreck during a training flight. Another survived a crash but suffered terrible burns; he later committed suicide. In the book’s most unsettling episode, a pilot with engine failure glided to a smooth landing on a deserted beach. But he failed to retract his landing gear, as per regulations, so the wheels stuck in the sand; the plane flipped, and he drowned in the rising tide. Gilman was equally vulnerable to the whims of fate and technology. While chasing a German fighter over the North Sea, his Spitfire’s radio went dead. With zero visibility, blackout conditions and no return course, his death seemed assured. But quick thinking and an alert lighthouse keeper steered him back to the land of the living. More a matter of luck was his surviving a midair collision with another pilot. As usual, Gilman narrates the horror of his crash with a mix of incredulity and bemusement. Of losing all his teeth when “the microphone at the end of my oxygen mask had gone through my mouth,” he looks on the bright side: “My last ever dental appointment was 78 years ago.” Such generosity of spirit is typical from the author, whose strange-but-true tales are a worthy addition to first-person accounts of World War II. Crisp prose and laconic humor bring the book’s collection of hair-raising stories to life, as do his well-chosen black-and-white photographs. Gilman rarely gets caught up in the jargon of the cockpit, and in pursuing his personal story, he avoids the lethargy of potted history. If readers don't acquire a deeper appreciation for the sacrifices made by the so-called Greatest Generation, they’ll at least come away with extra gratitude for the safety features of modern aircraft.

A highly engaging memoir of flying the not-so-friendly skies.

Pub Date: Nov. 23, 2012

ISBN: 978-1770972766

Page Count: 136

Publisher: FriesenPress

Review Posted Online: July 5, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2013

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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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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

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