An uneven fish-out-of-water story that doubles as a New Age enlightenment handbook.

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THE ROAD TO ENLIGHTENMENT

A novel about an English businessman’s adjustment to life in Austria that takes the form of a spiritual journey.

Robert Wallace has little to hold him in the United Kingdom when he agrees to take a management position at a firm in a town in the Austrian countryside. Although he loves his children, they live with his ex-wife and her new husband, so he looks abroad for meaning in his life. In spite of his very limited command of the German language, he soon develops a full life in his new home. Each chapter begins with a description of one of the tarot’s Major Arcana, whose meaning plays out in the story that follows. Many of the new people that Robert meets have spiritual lessons to impart, such as the ailing Mrs. Mueller—“Empress” in the tarot—who teaches him about the power of dreams. As Robert progresses from “The Fool” to “The World,” he navigates the complexities of friendship, romance, and parenthood, all intensified by the challenges of learning a new culture. Searle uses this episodic format to delve into a number of serious issues, including xenophobia, mental illness, and abusive relationships, as his protagonist becomes increasingly involved in mysticism and the occult via classes in reiki healing and psychic reading. Overall, though, Searle’s narrative sometimes feels slow and overly detailed. The prose style is often distractingly stilted, such as when Robert describes a woman at one of his psychic workshops: “He could see that she had carefully tended her long locks of hair, which shone in the light.” The work as a whole is also unlikely to convince those readers who don’t already have a firm grounding in concepts of New Age spirituality. That said, a number of Robert’s struggles will likely ring true to many, especially at moments when he ruefully recognizes his own fallibility.   

An uneven fish-out-of-water story that doubles as a New Age enlightenment handbook.

Pub Date: Dec. 21, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5043-7117-9

Page Count: 436

Publisher: BalboaPress

Review Posted Online: April 25, 2017

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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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