Prune Polish

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Like many academics, I do not write well, wallowing in jargon and bombast. But, unlike most academics, I know I do not write well.

This rare flash of self-awareness is why I’m enjoying Polishing Your Prose by the Cahn brothers. Published by Columbia University Press, the book presents no new tricks. The premise is less is more. Nothing new here – Strunk and White admonished us to “Omit needless words” in the 1950′s. (Though I struggle to omit that needless comma in the 2010s.)

But the trick is in targeting the dross, and here the Cahn book is worthy of any arsenal. The authors are great writers, and engage the reader in the painful process of polishing. Points are well organized, and provide a checklist to better self editing.

The book could have been more accurately titled Prune Your Prose. It is well worth the $15 entry fee. When I finish Polishing Your Prose, I will come back and polish this prattle!

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