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Mark Garvey

Review from Booklist, Oct 15, 2009.

Stylized: A Slightly Obsessive History of Strunk & White's The Elements of Style.
Garvey, Mark (Author)
Oct 2009. 224 p. Touchstone, hardcover, $22.99. (9781416590927). 808.

Straight off, Garvey admits to collecting "nicely preserved" copies of all editions of The Elements of Style. Which makes questionable the word slightly in the subtitle of his fiftieth-anniversary tribute. But not to quibble. His obsession enables an eminently readable tribute to two exceptional men who greatly influenced the writing of creative nonfiction. Cornell composition professor William Strunk Jr. (1869-1946) stringently enforced the "rules" of clear, cogent writing and did it with witty good fellowship. His students loved him, none more than E. B. White (1899-1985). Through White, Strunk affected modernist writing enormously, for as the staff writer who gave The New Yorker its distinctive voice, White modeled the modern plain style to the first generation of great twentieth-century American writers, inadvertently becoming the best name-endorsement of The Elements when he revived and extended it in the late 1950s. Garvey embellishes this main theme with sketches of Strunk's and White's lives and eccentricities; The Elements' publication history; and trenchant ruminations on the manual by contemporary stylists Frank McCourt, Dave Barry, Elmore Leonard, Sharon Olds, and others.
-Ray Olson

Copyright 2009, Booklist

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