Lighthearted and occasionally humorous, but not fully engaging.

READ REVIEW

A ROOM WITH A PEW

SLEEPING OUR WAY THROUGH SPAIN'S ANCIENT MONASTERIES

In their latest dispatches from abroad, Starks and Murcutt (Along the River that Flows Uphill: From the Orinoco to the Amazon, 2009, etc.) take readers on a pilgrimage to seven monasteries across Spain.

The authors’ use of immersion journalism provides unique insight into the inner sanctum of the monasteries, as they describe glimpses of a variety of treasures, including relics, artifacts and art. Better still is their shared insight into the psychology behind a life dedicated to God. Upon entering one monastery’s refectory, the writers wondered, “Could I eat here? Three times a day in silence? With the same group of people? For fifty years or more?” These questions, while rhetorical for the authors, undoubtedly had real-world ramifications for those who decided to engage in the monastic life. Yet when one monk notes the dearth of new recruits, readers may wonder if the answers to the aforementioned questions have often been a negative, if the monastic life is an endangered species soon to be another casualty of the modern world. While the book begins as a grand parade across Spain, it soon takes on characteristics of a forced march in which the primary difference among the monasteries are the people within their walls. Early on, Starks and Murcutt describe one monastery as “quiet and peaceful with an unhurried pace”—a good description for this book. There is little agency here, and while the authors faithfully report their trip, faith itself plays a minor role.

Lighthearted and occasionally humorous, but not fully engaging.

Pub Date: Sept. 4, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-7627-8145-4

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Lyons Press

Review Posted Online: June 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2012

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more