Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Happy to read Strunk and White

None of my unread thrift store books interested me in recent weeks, so I settled on Strunk and White's "The Elements of Style." Its brevity and efficiency make it a classic for writers of all persuasions. The back cover boasted its required reading status and pocket convenience.

I liked the book enough to want to carry it on my person, so I packed that punctuation in my pants. I did not like the look. Critics must have enormous pockets. The print is not unusually small; if they really wanted to make the thing a pocket reference, they could. They tease us.

Their false claim reminded me of the horrible words editors like to clip from book reviews. They like the words "compelling" and "spellbinding." My personal favorite is the "Tour de Force," which brings to mind Lance Armstrong cycling up a mountainside in a yellow jersey. You know, just like any of Toni Morrison's novels.

I am convinced that a lot of book reviewers never read the books they review. They might squint at synopses on the Web and dig into that small but foolhardy word bank that nobody believed existed until now.

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