Doc’s Blog# 5

   According to the September issue of In These Times, the jury is still out on whether police prevent crime. Most research indicates that the threat of punishment rarely deters criminals and that putting more police on patrol increases crime reports but does not decrease incidents. Studies show that police spend 80 to 90 percent of their patrol time on non-criminal matters, such as traffic violations.

And traffic violations brings up the question of criminal behavior of police themselves, as in the Sandra Bland fiasco….

Speaking of which, the Harper’s Index reports that the number of people fatally shot by British police in the past three years was 2. Compare that with the average number of people shot by U.S. police each day so far this year, 2.6.

I’ve read that some gangs’ initiation into membership require the recruit to “make their bones” by shooting someone. One might wonder if our police have a similar, secret ritual.

I recently read Michael Wallner’s, The Russian Affair (Doubleday, 2011). The protagonist, Anna, is a 29-year-old mother living with her father and her young son in a tiny apartment in Moscow. Her husband, a junior officer in the Red Army, is stationed several time zones away. Anna meets Alexey, a senior Soviet official, and they commence an affair. a KBG colonel intrudes into Anna’s life, demanding she spy on Alexy and report her information. And then life becomes complicated for Anna.

The plot line could have been a fast-paced spy thriller ,or it could have been an ill-starred love story, or it could have been a thinly disguised philosophical disquisition of the oppression of a communist state on individual expression. It was none of these. Rather, it trudged along like a Russian  peasant in a Siberian gulag: never very exciting, never very romantic, and never evocative of deep thought. It wasn’t a bad read, but neither was it a good one. On an A-F scale, I’d give it a C.

ESCAPE FROM XANADU: A Memoir of Survival, Adventure, and Coming of Age is finally done–except for putting it on Createspace and editing the proofs. the front cover, created by Al Musitano, is exciting, colorful, and directly alludes to chapters central to the story.

Read how our protagonist gets shot, discovers a Nazi spy hideout, escapes being trampled by a huge warhorse, and tries his hand at bronco-busting a 550-pound hog. It’s a rollicking, poignant, defiant, great adventure.

For those who are nostalgic for American life during the early 1950’s, ESCAPE FROM XANADU brings back memories of school dances, Glen Miller’s Orchestra, Patty Page, Howdy Doody, the rewards and travails of friendship, courtship, and coming of age.

Newsflash: Google Books is no longer accepting books. Supposedly, after remedying and improving the technology, they will resume business as usual.

The fad of eschewing adverbs and advocating barebones writing may have begun with Hemingway’s advice: “Cut all your adverbs, regard adjectives with extreme prejudice, turn every passive verb into an active one….Cherish sentence fragments….Above all show, don’t tell.” Hemingway’s minimalist approach has infected writers for decades and still chivies the writer’s muse with mantras of pare down, cut out, reduce and tighten up.

Such leanness of language risks ambiguity as well as limiting lyricism. Sparse sentences paint bleak, monochrome landscapes, and short, simple sentences, while perhaps amenable to those suffering A.D.H.D., are reminiscent of Look Dick, see Jane run–boring and infantilizing.

Barbara Baig in her book, Spellbinding Sentences, takes to task those who advocate eliminating all words ending in  -ly. She points out that a “writer determined to eliminate adverbs will be a seriously handicapped writer, for adverbs, like the other content parts of speech (nouns, verbs, and adjectives) are essential for every writer’s toolkit; they do things that the other parts of speech cannot….To advise young writers to get rid of all their adverbs is like advising a pitcher with four great pitches to throw only three of them–it’s professional suicide.”

My prejudice is readily apparent. What do you think?






3 thoughts on “Doc’s Blog# 5

  1. Having been a part of judicial system, it is quite clear NO CORRECTIONAL SERVICES are indoctrinated in it. Neither is “justice” ever served. They do not rehabilitate anyone!


  2. Hi Doc. I finished “The Glass Key” a 1931 book by Dashiell Hammett. He used a LOT of adverbs. I was compelled to finish the book which was brutal and very Noirish. Loved it because it was like an insect frozen in amber, written in the times it depicted. In this novel, Hammett didn’t pour on the flowery phrases, and I liked it just fine. And he repeatedly referred to his main character as Ned Beaumont, not shortening it.

    Liked by 1 person

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