A philosophical, anecdotal, and engaging account about an unlikely veteran.

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AN IMPROBABLE MARINE'S VIETNAM STORY

An author details his varied duties as a Marine during the Vietnam War in this debut memoir.

Despite possessing personal frailties and lacking a clear notion of intent, 21-year-old Choc enlisted in the Marines in fall 1965. Underweight and proficient in typing, he followed the administrative route and ended up in Vietnam as a typist, radioman, mailman, and aide-de-camp to his company’s commanding officer. He was stationed on Hill 55, a popular stop for celebrities like Jayne Mansfield and John Steinbeck looking for in-country photo ops. Despite the alleged safety of Hill 55 and his supposed noncombat duties, Choc experienced his share of pot shots, barrages, and proximity to death. “There must be libraries of war stories out there,” writes Choc as he prepares to submit his to the genre. A bombardment at Khe Sanh—which he mostly slept through, to the extent that when he awoke there was a brand new hole in his roof—decimated a tent mere yards from his and “seared second platoon flesh and bones with cumin spice and deadly bloody condiments tossed randomly about.” One of the author’s more gruesome jobs was to help identify the bodies of those killed in action, as he was one of the few people who, due to his mail delivery duties, knew what everyone looked like. Choc’s prose is ornate and tends toward the literary, though this sometimes leads to awkward syntax that trips up the reader: “Choices were considered amid anxieties of the unknown and hours of deliberation.” The writing flows better and hits harder when the author keeps it simple and direct: “Southeast Asia was a stewpot of wrath, brute will, and confusion.” While much of the book is concerned with his Marine experiences before and after the war, it is the Vietnam section that is the most salient and compelling. There is a bit of Yossarian in Choc’s gun-shy administrator, who inevitably finds violence even as he seeks to avoid it. Fans of Vietnam memoirs should enjoy this more cerebral take on that war and the military of the era.

 A philosophical, anecdotal, and engaging account about an unlikely veteran.

Pub Date: Dec. 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-9964179-0-7

Page Count: 244

Publisher: Chosen Journey Media

Review Posted Online: June 9, 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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