An up-and-down yet mostly amusing collection. Many readers will skim the short analyses while enjoying the examples and...

THE AFRICAN SVELTE

INGENIOUS MISSPELLINGS THAT MAKE SURPRISING SENSE

Common expressions gain richness of meaning through mistakes in word usage.

As an editor at the New Yorker, Menaker (My Mistake, 2013) often encountered phrases from fledgling writers in which a sound-alike word, mistaken for the right one, would add a whole new dimension to the meaning of a phrase. Take, for example, “the throws of packing,” which replaces a word that many could not define (“throes”) with a common, action-packed one that suggests the way so many of us pack, throwing things here and there into piles, boxes, or suitcases. Or, “pass mustard.” Even fewer might be able to define the correct “muster” or use it in any other context. But “mustard” provides a visual dimension, however incongruous, and it perhaps relates to another phrase, “too old to cut the mustard,” which is linguistically unrelated but could become confused in the mind. Some of the entries proceed from a different impulse and gain poetic resonance, such as “sobbing wet,” which seems to suggest something different and sadder than “sopping.” And having a “self of steam” could easily apply to someone suffering from low self-esteem. New Yorker illustrator Chast (Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant?, 2014, etc.) is typically brilliant when the cues call for visualization, especially with the stomach X-ray for “end-trails” and “something that really gets my gander up” (another one of those where most readers couldn’t define the correct “dander” or use it in any other context). There is even one selection that could spark a geographical debate, since “chile peppers” is common parlance from Texas through the Southwest, even though “Red Hot Chile Peppers” would not be correct as the band’s name. Acclaimed poet Billy Collins provides the foreword.

An up-and-down yet mostly amusing collection. Many readers will skim the short analyses while enjoying the examples and illustrations.

Pub Date: Oct. 18, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-544-80063-2

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Review Posted Online: Aug. 3, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 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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IN MY PLACE

From the national correspondent for PBS's MacNeil-Lehrer Newshour: a moving memoir of her youth in the Deep South and her role in desegregating the Univ. of Georgia. The eldest daughter of an army chaplain, Hunter-Gault was born in what she calls the ``first of many places that I would call `my place' ''—the small village of Due West, tucked away in a remote little corner of South Carolina. While her father served in Korea, Hunter-Gault and her mother moved first to Covington, Georgia, and then to Atlanta. In ``L.A.'' (lovely Atlanta), surrounded by her loving family and a close-knit black community, the author enjoyed a happy childhood participating in activities at church and at school, where her intellectual and leadership abilities soon were noticed by both faculty and peers. In high school, Hunter-Gault found herself studying the ``comic-strip character Brenda Starr as I might have studied a journalism textbook, had there been one.'' Determined to be a journalist, she applied to several colleges—all outside of Georgia, for ``to discourage the possibility that a black student would even think of applying to one of those white schools, the state provided money for black students'' to study out of state. Accepted at Michigan's Wayne State, the author was encouraged by local civil-rights leaders to apply, along with another classmate, to the Univ. of Georgia as well. Her application became a test of changing racial attitudes, as well as of the growing strength of the civil-rights movement in the South, and Gault became a national figure as she braved an onslaught of hostilities and harassment to become the first black woman to attend the university. A remarkably generous, fair-minded account of overcoming some of the biggest, and most intractable, obstacles ever deployed by southern racists. (Photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-374-17563-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1992

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