The Short Prose Reader 12/e
A journalist and author explains how text messaging, Weblogs, and e-mail are changing the ways students write—and driving some teachers to distraction.
Kurt Vonnegut Jr. How to Write with Style
One of America’s most imaginative authors offers young writers the secrets of his success.
William Zinsser Simplicity
According to this writer-teacher, “clutter is the disease of American writing.” We must, Zinsser declares, simplify.
Amy Tan Mother Tongue (Mixing Patterns)
Novelist Amy Tan explains how her writing style achieved both passion and simplicity when she learned to value the criticism of her mother, who said after reading her daughter’s novel, “So easy to read.”
Summing Up: Chapter 1From Seeing to WritingChapter 2 On ReadingJudith Ortiz Cofer Volar
A Latina writer recalls how reading helped her overcome her childhood circumstances.
Malcolm X Prison Studies
“Reading had changed forever the course of my life,” writes Malcolm X, who explains movingly how reading is both an activity of love and a tool of power.
Ellen Tashie Frisina “See Spot Run”: Teaching My Grandmother to Read
The writer recalls the pleasure she found in smuggling home grade-school books so that she could teach her 70-year-old Greek grandmother to read.
Norman Mailer One Idea (Mixing Patterns)
This literary celebrity lashes out at television and the disastrous effect commercials have had on students’ reading abilities.
Summing Up: Chapter 2From Seeing to WritingChapter 3 DescriptionDiane Ackerman Farewell to Summer and Its Buzzing Creatures
An award-winning poet and essayist bids good-bye to a season and its passing signs.
Annie Dillard In the Jungle
An acclaimed nature writer discovers in the Ecuadorian jungle the depths of experience that can be found in “the middle of nowhere.”
Maxine Hong Kingston Catfish in the Bathtub
Squirming turtles, swimming catfish, pungent skunks, city pigeons: Why did Kingston’s mother bring the culture of China to their California kitchen?
Suzanne Berne My Ticket to the Disaster (Mixing Patterns)
A novelist evokes a puzzling and emotional visit to the site of the destroyed World Trade towers.
Summing Up: Chapter 3From Seeing to WritingChapter 4 NarrationElizabeth Wong The Struggle to Be an All-American Girl
In a narrative of her youth, a writer remembers her efforts to obtain “a cultural divorce” from the heritage into which she was born.
Langston Hughes Salvation
One of America’s foremost poets tells of his childhood disillusionment as he struggled desperately to see Jesus.
David Sedaris Let It Snow
Humorist and storyteller David Sedaris turns to his childhood and recounts a strange winter day when his mother sent him and his sisters out to play.
George Orwell A Hanging (Mixing Patterns)
The renowned author of Animal Farm and 1984 discovers how precious human life is as he tells of witnessing an execution in Burma. “It is curious,” he recalls, “but till that moment I had never realized what it means to destroy a healthy, conscious man.”
Summing Up: Chapter 4From Seeing to WritingChapter 5 Process AnalysisBill Bryson Your New Computer
Ever been confused by the owner’s manual that came with electronic equipment? Well, Bryson’s instructions are even more frustrating.
Nora Ephron How to Foil a Terrorist Plot in Seven Simple Steps
A popular essayist, novelist, and screenwriter offers a hilarious spoof on our preoccupation with terrorism and terrorists.
Ernest Hemingway Camping Out
Avoiding insects. Getting a good rest. Cooking trout just right. This essay can make anyone’s next camping trip a success.
Henry Louis Gates Jr. In the Kitchen (Mixing Patterns)
A prolific writer and winner of a 1989 National Book Award explores the politics of the hairdo by recalling his experiences as a child in his mother’s home beauty parlor.
Summing Up: Chapter 5From Seeing to WritingChapter 6 IllustrationBrent Staples Night Walker
An avid “night walker” explains how his seemingly innocent habit has turned him into “an accomplice in tyranny.”
Barbara Ehrenreich What I’ve Learned from Men
The feminist social critic discovers that there is something useful to be learned from men after all: how to be tough.
Eleanor Bader Homeless on Campus
“Advocates for the homeless report countless examples of students sleeping in their cars and sneaking into a school gym to shower and change clothes.”
Jared Diamond Globalization Rocked the Ancient World Too (Mixing Patterns)
Globalization, Diamond claims, is nothing new: Early farmers carried their genes, foods, technologies, cultures, and languages around the world.
Summing Up: Chapter 6From Seeing to WritingChapter 7 Comparison and ContrastRachel Carson A Fable for Tomorrow
One of America’s most celebrated naturalists warns us of the future in a grim contrast between a flourishing environment and a destroyed landscape plagued by a mysterious curse.
Dave Barry Punch and Judy
The newspaper humorist takes a close look at the war of the sexes and isn’t quite sure which side he should be on.
Michele Ingrassia The Body of the Beholder
This writer focuses on a study that discovered why white girls dislike their bodies, but black girls are proud of theirs.”
Erica Goode Home Alone (Mixing Patterns)
A writer investigates the provocative issue of whether ethnic and racial diversity fosters community or social isolation.
Summing Up: Chapter 7From Seeing to Writing Chapter 8 Cause-and-Effect AnalysisStephen King Why We Crave Horror Movies
The acknowledged master of horror shares his thoughts on why people love to be frightened.
Elie Wiesel The America I Love
Holocaust survivor, author, and Nobel Peace Prize-winner Elie Wiesel explains what prompted him to become an American citizen more than forty years ago and how he feels about his adopted country today.
Harry Crews Why I Live Where I Live
This fiction writer offers a colorful, compelling explanation of why he has come to settle in one place.
Steve Olson Who’s Your Daddy? (Mixing Patterns)
A science writer explores the unintended consequences of genetic screening for disease.
Summing Up: Chapter 8From Seeing to WritingChapter 9 ClassificationJudith Viorst Friends, Good Friends—and Such Good Friends
This popular writer believes that friendships fall into numerous categories,“are conducted at many levels of intensity,” and “meet different needs.”
Jedediah Purdy Shades of Green
A law professor takes a critical look at “several environmentalisms.”
Amy Rashap The American Dream for Sale: Ethnic Images in Magazines
This writer claims that advertisements and other images in American magazines classify ethnic groups on the basis of prevailing stereotypes.
James T. Baker How Do We Find the Student in a World of Academic Gymnasts and Worker Ants? (Mixing Patterns)
This gently satirical essay introduces a dozen student types that everyone knows and loves—among others, the performer, the jock, the lost soul, the worker ant, and finally, the student.
Summing Up: Chapter 9From Seeing to WritingChapter 10 DefinitionNicholas Handler The Posteverything Generation
A junior history major at Yale University defines his generation as “post-cold war, postindustrial, post-baby boom, post-9/11.”
Dagoberto Gilb Pride
The popular Chicano writer takes a poetic approach to explaining how a common but complicated human emotion manifests itself in the deserts of Texas.
Thomas L. Friedman Generation Q
Celebrated New York Times contributor and best-selling author Thomas Friedman takes pride in the current generation of college students.
Gloria Naylor A Word’s Meaning (Mixing Patterns)
Novelist and short fiction writer Gloria Naylor asserts that the meaning of a word goes beyond the dictionary—especially when it is the N-word.
Summing Up: Chapter 10From Seeing to WritingChapter 11Argumentation and PersuasionArguments Pro and Con: Can Torture Be Justified?Mirko Bagaric A Case for Torture
A professor of law in Australia argues that at times the unthinkable becomes permissible.
John McCain Torture’s Terrible Toll
The war hero and United States senator, who was tortured during more than five years in captivity, rejects cruelty in the treatment of prisoners.
Perspectives on Identity: Who Are We, and How Are We Formed?Jonathan Kozol Are the Homeless Crazy?
With biting precision, a noted educator and social critic disputes a commonly accepted opinion about the cause of the ever-increasing problem of homelessness.
Richard Rodriguez The American Neighborhood
“Not enough is written or said about the impact of the American neighborhood—officially secular, informally tolerant of many faiths.”
Ronald Takaki The Harmful Myth of Asian Superiority
A leading scholar argues that not only is the idea of uniform Asian-American superiority a myth, but a myth that often veils racist sentiment directed at other groups.
Perspectives on the Mommy Wars: Should Mothers Work?Linda Hirshman Off to Work She Should Go
Hirshman argues that men should share the burden of child care, and that educated women harm their cause when they leave the workforce.
Susan Cheever Baby Battle
A well-known novelist and nonfiction writer declares, “There is a war going on in the streets of New York City” between the Stay-at-Home Mothers and their adversaries, the Working Mothers and Women Without Children.
Anna Quindlen The Good Enough Mother
A celebrated novelist and newspaper and magazine columnist admits that by “the new standards of mothering,” her mother was “a bust.”
Perspectives on Political Rights: Are We Truly Free?Molly Ivins Get a Knife, Get a Dog, But Get Rid of Guns
A witty, sharp-tongued columnist and political critic argues that the Bill of Rights ought not to protect “gun nuts.”
Martin Luther King Jr. I Have a Dream
In one of the great pieces of American oratory, King argues logically, emotionally, and ethically for equality of the races.
Orlando Patterson Jena, O.J. and the Jailing of Black America
A Harvard professor decries “the use of the prison system as a means of controlling young black men.”
Summing Up: Chapter 11From Seeing to Writing
APPENDIX: A GUIDE TO RESEARCH AND DOCUMENTATIONWhat Are Research and Documentation?The Research ProcessPhase I: Choosing and Limiting a TopicPhase II: Gathering and Organizing MaterialPhase III: Writing the PaperPhase IV: Documenting SourcesSample Student Research Paper
INDEX OF AUTHORS AND TITLES