COMING APART

AMERICA AND THE HARVARD RIOTS OF 1969: A MEMOIR

Rosenblatt, a contributing editor at Time and essayist on the NewsHour with Jim Lehrer on PBS, unhappily recalls the turmoil that ``exposed an entire generational rift and touched upon antagonisms that have not been mended to this day.'' Months of verbal hostilities were set off by the violent (by Harvard standards) takeover of a campus building in an antiwar protest by SDS members and their allies, which was followed by the police overreaction, administrative hand-wringing, and widespread rejection of personal responsibility that those who lived through the era will recall as the usual sequence of events. As a young instructor popular with both students and faculty, Rosenblatt was named to a committee charged with investigating the incident and recommending discipline for many of the participants. The man in the middle predictably ended up displeasing both sides. Rosenblatt (The Man in the Water and Other Essays, 1994, etc.), finds the principal cause of the students' bad behavior in an atmosphere of loneliness and alienation that seemed to be part of Harvard's institutional heritage. Despite that measure of sympathy, his judgment of the Harvard undergraduates of the period (who included Al Gore, Michael Kinsley, Al Franken, Mark Helprin, and Tommy Lee Jones) is tough: ``The students were not only sure they were right; they were sure they were wonderful.'' On the other hand, his disillusionment with the professoriat, most of which he found ``mean and narrow-mind,'' ultimately drove him from academe. Rosenblatt was a decade older than the Baby Boomers he taught, and he describes his younger self as essentially apolitical; one can question whether he comprehends even now the force of Vietnam in driving much of a younger generation to excess. His account nonetheless rings true. Not only perceptive, it's also one of the more entertaining memoirs of the era. (b&w photos, not seen)

Pub Date: April 9, 1997

ISBN: 0-316-75726-8

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1997

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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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DEAR MR. HENSHAW

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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