Sunday, September 21, 2008

Book Review: Writing To Be Read

At some thrift store we visited during our travels in August, I picked up Writing To Be Read by Ken Macrorie [1968, Hayden Book Company, LOC no. 67-31284]. I paid 69 cent for it, so figured I couldn't go wrong. In mid-August, when I sorted all the books in reading pile, I decided to put this one second, trying to mix fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and writing help books.

The book wasn't bad, but it also was not as helpful as I hoped it would be. I suppose the stamps on the book's edges, one for Gonderson High School in San Jose, CA, and one for Steinbeck Jr. High, should have clued me in. That and the age, and the fact that the book was barely read. Either this was an extra copy that rarely was assigned to a student or the students who had it had better things to do than read it.

The main problem with the book was the slant toward journalism, as opposed to other types of writing. Almost every example of both good and bad writing came from publications--more newspapers than magazines--than any other. Very few examples came from fiction. Most of the examples were from student newspapers in the 1960s. Quite a few came from the writings of Henry David Thoreau. A few came from 20th century American poets. The writing exercises were mostly journalism type things.

I don't mean to say the book had no value; it did, probably enough to justify the cost. The chapter on effective use of repetition should be valuable for me in both prose and poetry. The chapter on maintaining flow was useful. The chapter on finding an angle seems more slanted toward journalism, but may give me a few things to consider on other writing.

I have one chapter plus two pages to go to finish the book. I'm not sure I'm going to. I rarely do not finish a book I start. That's just a thing with me. If I paid for the book, even if it cost me money to go to the library for it, I feel like I must finish it to get my money's worth. On this one, with a chapter and two pages unread, I feel that I justified the expense of 69 cent.

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