A mountain-climbing chiropractor becomes perhaps the first westerner ever to reach a remote Tibetan valley, in the hope of making contact with a little-known tribe called the Drung. Brackenbury, an experienced mountaineer and survival expert, intrepidly pushes both the physical and bureaucratic envelope in his mission. Existing principally on a diet of assorted yak recipes, the trio of explorers composed of the author, a French photographer named Pascal, and Sophi, a beautiful French-Chinese translator, journey into a region of western China and southeastern Tibet officially off-limits to tourists. They are frequently detained and searched by Chinese policemen; in one harrowing episode, having been assured of their freedom yet held captive on a military base, they effect an escape, only to be hunted down and nearly shot. Thereafter, they are widely known among the Tibetans as those ``three bad people.'' At one time or another, all three suffer gravely from the elements, from the food, and, for the first two-thirds of the narrative, from one another. Pascal, it turns out, is a coward who blames Sophi for his reluctance to proceed over the remote high mountain passes without guides or official permission. Brackenbury finally cuts loose from his companions and treks on alone. His skills as a chiropractor are called on frequently as he ``adjusts'' the joints of various Tibetan pilgrims, and on the whole he gets on tolerably well with a suspicious and poorly fed people, who grudgingly offer him shelter and, less frequently, food. Finally, Brackenbury reaches his goal, but only after arduously hiking over snow-covered passes and clambering down steep cliffs, and the Drung turn out to be less isolated than the author had imagined. Occasionally self-indulgent and slow, Brackenbury's memoir is best read for the local color and some chilling, death-defying moments.

Pub Date: Jan. 20, 1997

ISBN: 1-56512-148-1

Page Count: 252

Publisher: Algonquin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1996

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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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Possibly inspired by the letters Cleary has received as a children's author, this begins with second-grader Leigh Botts' misspelled fan letter to Mr. Henshaw, whose fictitious book itself derives from the old take-off title Forty Ways W. Amuse a Dog. Soon Leigh is in sixth grade and bombarding his still-favorite author with a list of questions to be answered and returned by "next Friday," the day his author report is due. Leigh is disgruntled when Mr. Henshaw's answer comes late, and accompanied by a set of questions for Leigh to answer. He threatens not to, but as "Mom keeps nagging me about your dumb old questions" he finally gets the job done—and through his answers Mr. Henshaw and readers learn that Leigh considers himself "the mediumest boy in school," that his parents have split up, and that he dreams of his truck-driver dad driving him to school "hauling a forty-foot reefer, which would make his outfit add up to eighteen wheels altogether. . . . I guess I wouldn't seem so medium then." Soon Mr. Henshaw recommends keeping a diary (at least partly to get Leigh off his own back) and so the real letters to Mr. Henshaw taper off, with "pretend," unmailed letters (the diary) taking over. . . until Leigh can write "I don't have to pretend to write to Mr. Henshaw anymore. I have learned to say what I think on a piece of paper." Meanwhile Mr. Henshaw offers writing tips, and Leigh, struggling with a story for a school contest, concludes "I think you're right. Maybe I am not ready to write a story." Instead he writes a "true story" about a truck haul with his father in Leigh's real past, and this wins praise from "a real live author" Leigh meets through the school program. Mr. Henshaw has also advised that "a character in a story should solve a problem or change in some way," a standard juvenile-fiction dictum which Cleary herself applies modestly by having Leigh solve his disappearing lunch problem with a burglar-alarmed lunch box—and, more seriously, come to recognize and accept that his father can't be counted on. All of this, in Leigh's simple words, is capably and unobtrusively structured as well as valid and realistic. From the writing tips to the divorced-kid blues, however, it tends to substitute prevailing wisdom for the little jolts of recognition that made the Ramona books so rewarding.

Pub Date: Aug. 22, 1983

ISBN: 143511096X

Page Count: 133

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 16, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1983

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