A useful sourcebook and an entertaining read.


Girlhood in America


This nonfiction collection offers more than 50 entertaining, informative memoir pieces about American girlhood from 1910 to 2010.

Sherman (Lesbian and Gay Marriage, 1992) taught memoir writing for many years. Many of these entries were written by her students, while others were adapted from interviews with women and girls from diverse cultural, geographical, racial, and class backgrounds. Sherman asked her interviewees about their first 13 years and specifically about their experiences with family, school, friendships, and play; other topics include “racism, divorce, [and] being ‘different.’ ” Readers will see the differences, similarities, and connections within and across decades as they compare and contrast other childhoods with their own. Each chapter has a useful introduction explaining the historical characteristics of a particular decade, including its newest products, books, and similar artifacts, and the 10 most popular girls’ names. There’s much food for thought here, whether readers focus on a single decade or trace themes over time, such as the immigrant experience, how appliances have eased household chores, or how expectations regarding girls’ dress, schooling, and careers have changed. Some cultural experiences serve as common touchstones through the years (such as reading Louisa May Alcott’s works); others are very much of their time, such as accompanying the iceman on his deliveries. Overall, the contributions are wonderfully lively and vivid. Here, Florence Smith—5 years old in 1911—describes the excitement of her family buying the first Model T on the block: “Neighbors up the street came outside to see us, and they waved as we passed. My mother was laughing and hugging my father as we bounced along and I was feeling the air move through my fingers with both hands held up.” Readers inclined to take modernity for granted will find much here to surprise and interest them. As the first in a planned series of “100 Years in the Life” books, it also has great classroom potential with its discussion questions.

A useful sourcebook and an entertaining read.

Pub Date: Jan. 7, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-9904527-2-7

Page Count: 334

Publisher: SZS Publishing

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2015

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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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Analyzing his craft, a careful craftsman urges with Thoreauvian conviction that writers should simplify, simplify, simplify.


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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