A writing handbook that celebrates the infinite pizzazz of verbs.
Library JournalJournalist Hale (Sin and Syntax) loves language. In this latest offering, she focuses on the power of verbs to make writing sing. After a discussion of the history of language and commentary about the importance of verbs, she organizes the book into topical sections, each arranged in four subsections based on the titular verbs. "Vex" clears up confusion about the rules; "Hex" challenges grammar myths and assumptions; "Smash" focuses on particular bad habits and offers examples of not-so-good writing; and "Smooch" showcases examples of writing in which the verbs dance. This book encourages readers to think about how language is used and how it evolves. Overall, it's a romp for the language obsessed, with a broad sampling of usage to help readers who want to become better writers. VERDICT Hale's book will be useful for those seeking an accessible writing guide; it will also appeal to general readers and writers interested in increasing their understanding and mastery of the power found in a living language.—Nancy Almand, Fresno Cty. Coll. Lib., CA
Kirkus ReviewsSelf-help for aspiring writers, who need, it seems, to zap the red sauce of their prose with tangier verbs. In a text that looks like many others in the self-help genre (lots of sidebars, multiple appendixes, forests of exclamation points, bushels of bullet points and gee-whiz-this-stuff-is-easy! diction), Hale (Sin and Syntax: How to Craft Wickedly Effective Prose, 1999, etc.) offers plenty of advice for would-be writers. Each chapter follows the title's structure, dealing, in sequence, with things that vex writers, grammar myths the author wishes to discredit, the failings of "writers famous and infamous, hapless and clueless" and, finally, exemplary passages. This soon grows tiresome. However, the author has done considerable homework and is careful to credit her sources and mentors (David Crystal, Steven Pinker and many others). She also assails dragons long-ago slain or grievously wounded--split infinitives, for example, or prepositions at the ends of sentences. Her attacks on the language of politicians (often George W. Bush and Sarah Palin) fail to recognize that everyone makes grammatical mistakes in extemporaneous speech and that speechwriters deserve the credit and the blame for the rest. She calls Ronald Reagan a "rhetorical genius," though it was more likely Peggy Noonan. The author tries to make it all seem so easy, and she enjoys chiding the strict grammarian types who are more fastidious than she. Hale's explanations of the differences between affect and effect and lie and lay are generally clear. Bubbling with energy and conviction but less practical than an old-fashioned style manual.
New York Journal of Books“A worthwhile addition to any word-lover’s book shelf.”
- Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
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- 8.20(w) x 5.90(h) x 1.20(d)
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