Altoona Mirror from Altoona, Pennsylvania on June 5, 1988 · Page 51
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Altoona Mirror from Altoona, Pennsylvania · Page 51

Altoona, Pennsylvania
Issue Date:
Sunday, June 5, 1988
Page 51
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AJteooa Mirror, , Jwe i, IKtt PageES James J. Kilpatrick No hem, haw over him, her [brothers * • • A letter comes to hand from" a gentlewoman in Florida. She is in a state trf war with her 12-year-old daughter. They fought the other eyen'rtig' over .pronouns. "Nominative!" cried the belligerent child. "Objective! Possessive! Why do I havfe to learn all that dumb stuff?" My 1 correspondent asked a plaintive question: "How do f explain why she has to learn all that dumb stuff?" The proper response to such questions., as Ring Lardner taught us long ago, is, "Because I say so!" A longer and probably less effective answer lies in explaining that the English language has a kind of bone structure. In the human skeleton, the metacarpus goes in the hand and (he metatarsus goes in the foot. Mix them up and you'd have a tough time throwing a 1 fast ball. Confusing nominative and objective pronouns creates the same disarray. The sad truth is that young Elizabeth is not alone in having trouble with all that dumb stuff. Let me offer some Horrid Examples. The Sandusky (Ohio) Register recently .editorialized on a criminal trial involving a man named Howard woo had been charged with pointing-,.* gun at a man named Lochner. The two had argued over a debt. "It would have been to both he »nd Lochoer's benefit," said the newspaper, "if that issue could have been settled in the civil courts." : Jn Palm Springs, Calif., two rob- , hers broke into the home of singer Keely Smith. Reported the Desert Sun: "Ms. Smith was sleeping and ordered to remain in bed. Pillows were put over she and her brother's heads? 7 In Dothan, Ala., the Eagle sent a reporter to a children'* music class. Five-year-old Megan Clark liked to win stickers. These are "awards given to she and her classmates when they practice their musical assignments at home." The New York Times last year provided"* feature story on salesman Bernie Spitz. Back in the • bepresskm, when Spitz was 18, "his father lent he and his brother Herbert on the road to drum up some business." The Indianapolis Star had a note on Magic Johnson of basketball fame. It seeins that Johnson, "who pas been asked hundreds of questions about he and Bird, lights up when talking about their rivalry." \ Home magazine last year carried a piece by a Vermont professor who had remodeled an old home. The kit- Chen had been so'poorly designed that things had to be moved off a counter in order to get to the pantry. "This has caused my wife and I to genuflect to the legacy of modern industrial design on more than one Occasion:" The Las Vegas Sun had an item on the arrest pf actor Sean Penn for assaulting two British journalists. The writers complained that Penn puhimeled them ''after they had approached he and Madonna in June 1985 to interview and photograph the Couple." ' A reporter for the Seattle Post- Intelligencer plodded up Mount St. Helens. The skm climb "didn't prepare photographer; Kurt Smith and I for the abruptness with which we came upon the mountain's fiery side straight below us." The Portland Oregonian provided a feature story on George teg, an or- chardist with a love for his 1947 Chevrolet. The car carried him through high school and college, "and was used to transport he and his wife Murial on their honeymoon;" . Aaargh! Enough! Readers have sent mea hundred of these clunkers. Pay attention, Elizabeth! The car transported him and his wife; the climb didn't prepare the r and me; the British approached him and j; the flawed kitchen caused my wife and me to genuflect. Keep the bones of language where they belong. This isn't dumb stuff. It s basic English. • While we are watching pronouns, let us also watch apostrophes. The Toledo (Ohio) Blade carried a full- page ad that began ''Enjoy summer's finest at us best ..." The Miami Herald asked in a headline, "Whose for helmets?" Distributors of a movie, "Flight of the Navigator," fouled out four times in a single sentence: "A film with it's head in the clouds, it's feet on the ground and it's heart on it's sleeve." stnfctions. A cblumnisi for the Pacheco Automotive News Service let us know that "There's few things that a good mechanic can't repair. •Books- Magic! Altoona's Kelley stylish By John Wall Assistant Lifestyle Editor SLEICHTLY GUILTY, Patrick A. Kelley, Avon Books, 182 pages,«.». Altoona mystery author Patrick Kelley has conjured up his best effort yet in terms of writing quality and style with "SkSghtly Guilty," his fifth (and perhaps last) Harry Col- derwood mystery. Kelley has created a convincing maze in which to send his magician-cum-shamus on the road to its final solution and he has. created some of his best, and more importantly, most believable supporting characters.. While Kelley still needs to hone his ear for realistic dialogue and tone down some of his more obvious leanings toward the gruff Spillane school of description, "Sleightly Guilty" gives concrete evidence that Kelley is fast approaching a personal style that could be distinctive. The book's opening is efficient, informative and sucks the reader into the story as effortlessly as a Houdini escape trick. Faced with the kidnapping of his one-time magic assistant and former lover Cate Fleming, Colderwood finds himself deep within a poker game that has stakes even higher than any long green. Kelley opens the novel in style by depicting Harry's preparation for the card game. The accoutrements of the card sharp and cheater are described with the sure hand of a riverboat gambler as Colderwood fleeces the game in order to raise Gate's ransom. Complications arise when Cate is accused of murder in the death of Lisa South, a distasteful gossip columnist in the Rona Barrett mold. Colder- wood soon realizes his poker game was a diversion for the killer and sets out to solve the mystery and clear his friend's name. Colderwood eventually narrows the list of suspects to his poker partners and in a somewhat contrived and needlessly jumbled climax, Col- derwood gets his man with the help of a drunken memory expert, a set designer with a taste for the bizarre and a pill- puitledwife. i set the novel in • the Pennsylvania POCODOS, knows his territory and his magician hero very well, and his descriptions of card tricks, magic gags and a run-down magic club called The Mystic Isle are all well drawn. The major stumbling Mock to readability in "Sleightly Guilty" concerns the dialogue of Kelley's characters. Such examples as, "... you remind me of a former manager of mine. After I did eight shows on the Fourth of July at a theme park, he tried to stiff me ««• my fee. The fireworks at the nark that night were nothing compared to the ones we shot off. The judge later ordered me never to darken his doorway again," have none of the rhythms of real speech. Kelley has to resist the temptation to fill his characters with exposition and unwieldy syntax. Occasionally Kelley's descriptive powers lapse into the hard-boiled detecttve-ese that is best left to anthologies and some of the -leaser-read men's magazines. An example: "She was young enough to be his daughter — his granddaughter, even. Her arms were entwined posseslvely around his waist and sheigazea longingly into his eyes. Granddaughter she wasn't." Where the magician-turned author Kelley excels is in the descriptions of the periphery of his avocation. A chapter in which Colderwood looks with a mixture of sympathy and regret'. upon some of the lesser lights of magic is exceptional, as is the entire opening sequence, where Kelley snows how to hide more than an ace up the sleeve. Although Kelley gets a bit bogged down in the climactic confrontation with his culprit (he is too enamored with outlining the background of the dastardly one's profession), his latest mystery shows a continuing maturation as a writer and plot-twister. Perhaps a journey beyond the familiar world of magic will be an impetus to even better work from a promising mystery wordsmith. t v » * B m 1 :-wxx. **&>'% & .l : 'l\ (Mriml ->i<- whrrr ihc killer, .iniilhc „»« ALTOONA AUTHOR Patrick A. Kelley's "new growing more confident and reaching toward a Harry Colderwood mystery finds the author distinctive personal style. Book Review FIREWORKS-. The Lost Writings of Jim Thompson. Donald I. Fine' Inc. 394 Pages. 119.95. The literary graveyard is full of forgotten names. Every now and then an effort is made to revive one of these names — and that usually is a mistake. Such is the case with Jim Thompson. Never- theless, editors Robert Polito and Michael McCauley have dredged up reams of Thompson's deservedly forgotten writings and entombed them in "Fireworks," It's hard to understand why, and the editors do nothing for Thompson's revival when they write: "Buried under the shabbiest conventions of pulp fiction—all but three of the 29 books he published between 1942 and 1973 were paperback originals - and picking at the banality with offhand brilliance, his novels pursue the most debased imaginative materials. Reading one of them is like being trapped in a bomb shelter.with a chatty maniac who., happens to be the air raid .warden." And so it goes" with .Thompson's shorter writings. "The End of the Book" runs a bit over four pages but it crams more than enough bilge into that short space to Upset the toughest reader's stomach. "Gentlemen of the Jungle" consists of three word portraits of some inhabitants of a hobo jungle, none of them with any redeeming features. "This World, Then the Fireworks," is a chaotic novella of sorts. It detail* .the lives of a mentally twisted brother and sister. Thompson tries'to'explain their, unsavory lives by attributing it all to the fact that tneirfather was an.adulterer and a murderer who died in the electric chair, but it just doesn't wash. While these pieces contain some elements of minor talent, many of the others are strictly back work with easily predictable endings: Among these are "The Threesome in Four-C," "The Flaw in the System," and "Forever After." For trivia collectors, the. latter contains these memorable lines: "They embraced passionately. Her body pressed against the meat cleaver concealed inside his shirt, and Ardis shivered with delicious anticipation." Phil Thomas, AP New York Times Sunday Crossword BY JUDITH PO«Y/PuzzlesEdtod by ACROSS 1 Small indentation 5 Extemporize If Submerge 15 Declines IS Blunderbore, c-g- 20 Tropical vine 21 Fluke larva 22 Ire Held 23 Take a bark seat 2C Watson's warning 27SukiandSand 28 Release 29 Potted 31 Interstices 32 "A|i Sin" OH dramatist 33 Dynamo parts 34 Haifa score 58 Disparage 35 Amiens's river 57 Ticket type 38 Unproductive 58 Act as gofer 37 Fenway foursome 48 Belaboring 42 Musical aptitude 45 Indonesian island 48 Animadverts 47" Armageddon" author 48 European capital 48 Doak Walker's 78 Manger __««"•.• 77 Sizzling 58 Flinch • 7g go successful 51 insipid 82 Viking 53 Plods alphabet 54 Most 83 "Boys Town" convenient actor •2 Sofa M Canyon •5 Went over again •8 Throbs 88 Awn ' 71 Emulated Pan 72 Swedish coin 73 Carport 74 Southern France 75 Limerick poet 85 Peace Nobelist: 1987 84 Light bed 87 Expel 8t Cupid 88 Beat M Fissured 85 Derogatory N Aurora •7 River in Xanadu tSBorgewilldo this for laughs HI Kind of market IMGnomclike creature 183 Strained 1*4 Unicom fish US Asian festivals Iff "Solstice" author 187Chipped in 188 Roman clan (Jams iCilpatrlcfc't poitc commentary appears on the Opini Page «wry Sunday and Tuesday) political inion DOWN IDad 2 Girl wulrher 3 Davit 4 Convent ion orator 5 President of Mexico: 194652 • Cubes 7 Neighbor of Burma 8 Bavarian river 1 Night-stand sight It Scriptural 11 Pussyfoot 12 Taropart IS"—-Liza Jane" 14 Bands stand . for them IS Lacking vigor 18 Boast 17 Shipworm 18 Pips 24 Holiday happenings 25NobHislin Physics: 1938 38 Mountain lake 32 Half a centaur 33 Flavorful 35 Private rooms 38 Incinerate 37 Blowout 38 Soprano Cluck 38 Proclaim widely 48 Medieval guild 41 Protect 43 Filamentous plant IRubfc 44 Rubicund 48 Rifle 48 Spreads ' 58 Sommelier-'s charge 51 Mixture '52 Alfred of acting 53 P.G.A. winner: 1949 MOM hat 58 Rating symbol 57 Painter's pigment 58 Characteristic 88 Gazelles 81KingBiren- dra's land 82 Cummerbund 83 Repeal 88 Buffalo's county 87 Society entrants 88 Alfred of testing 78 Impatient 71 Excuses 74 Sonata movement 78 Foots it 78 Source 78 Mark and Dorothy 88 Wear away 81 Cardinal's cap 82 Logger's sport 84 NebTtribe 88 Crooked 87 Rough sketch 81 Dress design 88l-unar trench 82 Connection 88 Tarsus NSigmatcob- 88 Aplomb jects M Bagpipe player 48 Propensity M "Watchful" name 100 One with a clutch

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