A charming epistolary recounting but one that may have a limited audience.

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DEAR FOLKS

A MEMOIR FROM 500 LETTERS

A debut memoir in letters that covers more than four decades of correspondence and recollections.

Leighton was a prolific letter writer, exchanging hundreds with his mother and father starting in the 1940s. In the newly written letters to friends and relatives collected here, he draws on these older missives, as well as others that he wrote to his wife in the ’50s during their engagement and to his daughter, Kim, when she traveled overseas in the ’70s and ’80s—a sum total of 501 letters (despite the book’s subtitle). From these scattered sources, a surprisingly clear chronology surfaces in this book, chronicling a life of rich personal and professional pursuits. The author was born in western Maryland and largely grew up across the street from a Methodist church. He attended nearby Western Maryland College and earned an M.D. from the University of Maryland before becoming a Navy lieutenant and flight surgeon, which allowed him to travel widely in Asia. He eventually became an academic and rose to the level of dean at the Medical College of Ohio. Leighton’s story also covers his travels with his wife before she died from melanoma in 2009. The author’s unwavering devotion to his family shines through in every letter, and his desire to preserve and communicate its history is endearing and admirable. However, the assemblage of letters here can be confusing at times, as it’s not always clear how the recipients are precisely related to the author. Also, they chronicle an exhaustive but personally idiosyncratic tale that likely won’t appeal to those who don’t already know the author well. Leighton’s prose is clear, if mechanical, and the letters generally follow a repetitive formula, beginning with the same introduction: “I’m writing to you….” As a result, this memoir is sure to be cherished by the author’s family members, but it doesn’t strike a more universal chord.

A charming epistolary recounting but one that may have a limited audience. 

Pub Date: Dec. 5, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-63524-381-9

Page Count: -

Publisher: LitFire Publishing

Review Posted Online: April 26, 2017

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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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