EVERYDAY STALINISM

ORDINARY LIFE IN EXTRAORDINARY TIMES: SOVIET RUSSIA IN THE 1930S

“Everyday Stalinism” may seem like an oxymoron, but life did go on even in those terrible circumstances, and it is the virtue of this book that it attempts to understand what life was like for ordinary people. Since this is an account of urban life, the killing of millions of peasants, dealt with by Fitzpatrick (Modern Russian History/Univ. of Chicago) in her earlier Stalin’s Peasants (1994), takes place offstage here, but it profoundly affected the —30s, not just in the massive social dislocation, the overcrowding in communal apartments, and a rationing system close to collapse, but in the pervasive fear. Criminal penalties could be imposed on a worker 20 minutes late for work. The bureaucracy accumulated enormous power over people’s lives. In one factory, after a hairdresser had been appointed, it became a criminal offense to shave oneself. It became too dangerous to participate in policy debates. And then, over and above the millions claimed by the Purges, there was the simultaneous round-up and execution of thousands of ’socially dangerous elements,— church people, —counter-revolutionaries,— and habitual criminals. Fitzpatrick tells us that the target figure for executions was 70,000 and for dispatch to the Gulag 200,000. Fitzpatrick does show that there were some who were either favored by the process or unaffected by it, or who thought that these were necessary sacrifices on the way to a radiant future. The scale of the sacrifice was concealed from the people by a state that was increasingly secretive and unwilling to allow knowledge of what it was doing to be disseminated. There are some curious judgments: that Stalin —perhaps covertly encouraged— the cult of personality, or that the idea of remaking the human being ’seems to have had some genuinely inspirational impact— in the Gulag. But Fitzpatrick makes subtle use of the press and of police reports tzao assist in giving us one of the most comprehensive accounts to date of what it meant to live in Stalin’s Russia in the 1930s.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-19-505000-2

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 1998

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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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