A winning and witty collection offering humor and insight into the French way of life.

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FRENCH LIKE MOI

A MIDWESTERNER IN PARIS

A volume of essays recounts the joys and difficulties of a Midwestern college professor’s move to Paris.

On sabbatical from teaching, Carpenter moved with his wife and daughter all the way from Minnesota to Paris. After much bureaucratic hubbub, they bought a tiny apartment and set about acclimating to the Parisian way of life. No stranger to the French but a relative newcomer to their daily routines, the author highlights the captivating contrasts between his Midwestern home and his adopted city in 18 essays and three sections: “Came,” “Saw,” and “Conquered.” Each essay focuses on a different element of Parisian life, from the relative opulence of American return policies to the ubiquity of protests and demonstrations. Carpenter’s insights are humorous and deftly crafted, interweaving perceptive details about the French language with curious incidents and stirring events. While the tone is light, the author occasionally ventures into serious territory, most effectively in his discussion of terrorism and the national climate. While his more solemn moments can verge on flippancy, Carpenter generally returns readers to a place of thoughtful consideration. One of the strongest, most innovative passages comes in a chapter recalling the difficult process of raising funds and securing approvals for apartment building improvements. The author convincingly compares this process to the drama of an opera and goes so far as to provide the beginnings of a libretto. Most of his essays are also accompanied by debut illustrator Golden’s charming sketches, which lend additional intrigue to Carpenter’s fluid scenes. Although perhaps not groundbreaking in its subject matter or style, the book is a delightful read, presenting essays filled with levity and grace.

A winning and witty collection offering humor and insight into the French way of life.

Pub Date: July 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-60952-183-7

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Travelers' Tales

Review Posted Online: Feb. 21, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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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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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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