A fascinating glimpse into the HO-scale world.

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PLAYING WITH TRAINS

A PASSION BEYOND SCALE

A model-railroader explains his obsession.

Former Grand Prix racer and sportscaster Posey was four years old in 1948, when his father brought home a Lionel train set for Christmas. Along with many other boys of his age and era, he gradually supplemented that beginner set with buildings, specialized cars and equipment, and a failed early attempt at a layout (a complete miniature setting for the trains to run through). Puberty led to other pursuits, and it wasn't until the author had a son of his own that he returned to his childhood hobby, this time with HO-scale trains, smaller but more realistic than the Lionels of his youth. Discovering that there were entire books devoted to railroading, he began to dream of creating a layout worthy of coverage in Model Railroader, the hobbyists’ bible. Sixteen years later, with the help of several professionals, Posey’s layout was complete. Along the way, he learned a great deal, not just about model trains, but about what makes his fellow hobbyists tick. As with any obsession, model trains bring out strong opinions; railroaders are divided between those who strive for utter realism and those whose layouts are a form of artistic expression. The one may center on a particular day of operation of an actual train line, each event occurring with stopwatch precision. The other might build a miniature city, complete down to the trash in the back seat of a parked car. Posey visits a number of famous layouts, each a revelation of the hold railroading exerts on its devotees. It is an overwhelmingly male obsession, and its demographic has inexorably crept up toward retirement age. With genuine charm and affection, Posey portrays the railroaders, their layouts, and the passion that drives them.

A fascinating glimpse into the HO-scale world.

Pub Date: Sept. 14, 2004

ISBN: 1-4000-6178-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2004

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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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