Repetitious prose dilutes a potentially rich travel book experience.

READ REVIEW

A Greek Odyssey

A personal journey along the back roads of Greece.

Australian by birth, Greek by blood, Mitsis (When Study Goes Wrong, 2015) brings a unique perspective to this book, in which she relates a trip through her ancestral homeland. She lures readers away from the usual suspects (Athens and the Greek islands) and introduces them to smaller, out-of-the-way places, some of which are tied to her own personal heritage. The book’s tone wavers between that of a Fodor’s or Frommer’s travel guide and that of a series of chatty texts. “What does Greece mean to me?” she asks in her introduction. “I wasn’t born there, I didn’t grow up there, yet it somehow draws me to it.” A few sentences later, she says, “Home is and always has been Australia. Yet something inside me draws me towards Greece.” Unfortunately, this tendency toward repetition continues throughout the book: beaches, landscapes, and towns are all described as “stunning,” as are Lake Prespa, Agras, and Mystras. However, the author does show both her curiosity and her winning respect for history. As she writes about the Turkish invasion of Parga, for example, which forced the locals to flee to nearby Corfu, she adds a colorful detail: “In order for them not to leave their ancestors behind, they had to dig them up, burn them, and then store their ashes.” More of these types of vivid footnotes would have been welcome. Instead, the book falls into a pattern; each sojourn offers a quote, some history, often a reference to something “stunning” (mountains, a castle, a monastery), and, in true travel guide style, a “How to Get There” addendum. At first, this format is appealing, but eventually, the places all blend together; readers will be hard-pressed to differentiate between Nafpaktos (“A stunning little town”), and Dodoni, which offers “stunning views around the area.” The book would also have profited greatly from maps, blueprints, or any other sort of visual component.

Repetitious prose dilutes a potentially rich travel book experience.

Pub Date: Jan. 25, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-925388-57-2

Page Count: 180

Publisher: Inhouse Publishing

Review Posted Online: April 19, 2016

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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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