Squeezing the Grapefruit

Ashley Thorne

NAS president Peter Wood’s book review in the American Conservative is linked today on Arts and Letters Daily, one of the top literary sites on the web. His article, a review of areview, examines Mark Garvey’s book Stylized: A Slightly Obsessive History of Strunk & White's The Elements of Style. Dr. Wood ponders Garvey’s treatment of Strunk and White’s canonical command, “Omit needless words”: 

When Garvey urges this winsome Strunk—Strunk-the-judicious—my heart melts. But then I wonder: why have so many earnest people studied The Elements of Style and come away convinced that good writing involves squeezing every last drop from the grapefruit and then eating the rind? Do Strunk and his famous student E.B. White bear no responsibility for this heresy? After all, they preached a creed of clarity. Shouldn’t their book be clear about its purpose? But if Garvey is right, a lot of readers have gone astray in The Elements of Style. They have imagined it a fundamentalist sect, when it is truly just an older brother’s counsel. 

Read Dr. Wood’s review in its entirety here.

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