Although this doesn’t cohere except on a grand thematic level, each individual essay has a considerable impact.

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THE LANGUAGE OF CELLS

LIFE AS SEEN UNDER THE MICROSCOPE

A collection of essays by a surgical pathologist Nadler, who deciphers the results of biopsies and other tissue samples in search of disease.

The subtitle is a bit misleading, for the eight essays collected here are really much more concerned with the impact of disease and aging on the individual patients Nadler encounters in his daily practice than in “the cellular world of biopsies” that is the stated aim of his study. In general, surgical pathologists rarely meet the actual people whose tissue they study, but Nadler, who has been living through the microscope for some 25 years, feels an acute urge for the community of doctor and patient—and that urge led to these stories. There is a downside to that decision; as he admits, “by confining myself to cells, I stay clear of the fiery trials of illness,” and the patients he writes about are suffering from terrible diseases—various cancers, sickle-cell anemia, spinal cord injury, Alzheimer’s, and the simple, inexorable fact of aging. An Alzheimer’s patient is described as “more than the sum of [the] tangles and plaques” of his distorted cellular world, and the best moments in this account are those in which Nadler is able to make us see the connection between cellular phenomena and human suffering. This is nowhere more clear than in the chapter on Comille, a frighteningly mature eight-year-old boy with sickle-cell anemia whose childhood has been an unending series of hospitalizations and a constant stream of pain. On the whole, the collection reads like the disparate collection of essays that it clearly is, but Nadler is an excellent and compassionate observer and an intelligent writer.

Although this doesn’t cohere except on a grand thematic level, each individual essay has a considerable impact.

Pub Date: Sept. 4, 2001

ISBN: 0-375-50416-8

Page Count: 212

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2001

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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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