A generous, witty, and exuberant teacher inspires writers to “know more and feel more.”



A jam-packed book of advice for would-be writers.

Poynter Institute senior scholar Clark (The Art of X-Ray Reading: How the Secrets of 25 Great Works of Literature Will Improve Your Writing, 2017, etc.) has become something of a guru when it comes to how-to writing books. Written in his usual easygoing, conversational, and encouraging style, his latest is a compilation of writing advice from more than 50 of his favorite books about writing. Covering a wide range of topics, including language and craft, voice and style, storytelling and character, and rhetoric and audience, the author focuses on one or two writing lessons from each book. In each chapter, Clark also provides a pedagogical “Tool Box” of ideas and suggestions and “Lessons” for students to try out: “Read a lot and write a lot”; “Write Up to your readers, not Down.” The book’s title comes from Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch’s On the Art of Writing (1916), in which the author suggested, “Draft, purge, murder. Before you murder that darling, you must create it.” Clark argues that William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White’s The Elements of Style is the “great-granddaddy” of all books on writing. For “millions of reluctant writers,” it told them that the “writing craft is not an act of magic, but the applied use of both rules and tools.” Besides the old standards, there are some nice surprises—e.g., George Campbell’s The Philosophy of Rhetoric, a “must read” that “was published in a significant year: 1776.” Stephen King’s “odd bit of advice” in On Writing—to read “bad writing so you can learn what not to write”—is practical and wise. Clark deftly mixes writing advice with personal memoir and toots his own horn in an appendix that includes summaries of his own books, including Writing Tools—“more than 200,000 copies have been sold in several formats.”

A generous, witty, and exuberant teacher inspires writers to “know more and feel more.”

Pub Date: Jan. 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-316-48188-5

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Little, Brown Spark

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2019

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...



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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From the national correspondent for PBS's MacNeil-Lehrer Newshour: a moving memoir of her youth in the Deep South and her role in desegregating the Univ. of Georgia. The eldest daughter of an army chaplain, Hunter-Gault was born in what she calls the ``first of many places that I would call `my place' ''—the small village of Due West, tucked away in a remote little corner of South Carolina. While her father served in Korea, Hunter-Gault and her mother moved first to Covington, Georgia, and then to Atlanta. In ``L.A.'' (lovely Atlanta), surrounded by her loving family and a close-knit black community, the author enjoyed a happy childhood participating in activities at church and at school, where her intellectual and leadership abilities soon were noticed by both faculty and peers. In high school, Hunter-Gault found herself studying the ``comic-strip character Brenda Starr as I might have studied a journalism textbook, had there been one.'' Determined to be a journalist, she applied to several colleges—all outside of Georgia, for ``to discourage the possibility that a black student would even think of applying to one of those white schools, the state provided money for black students'' to study out of state. Accepted at Michigan's Wayne State, the author was encouraged by local civil-rights leaders to apply, along with another classmate, to the Univ. of Georgia as well. Her application became a test of changing racial attitudes, as well as of the growing strength of the civil-rights movement in the South, and Gault became a national figure as she braved an onslaught of hostilities and harassment to become the first black woman to attend the university. A remarkably generous, fair-minded account of overcoming some of the biggest, and most intractable, obstacles ever deployed by southern racists. (Photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-374-17563-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1992

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