Richard Walsh reviews 'Do I Make Myself Clear?: Why writing well matters' by Harold Evans

Richard Walsh reviews 'Do I Make Myself Clear?: Why writing well matters' by Harold Evans

Do I Make Myself Clear?: Why writing well matters

by Harold Evans

Abacus, $55 hb, 408 pp, 9781408709665

Harold Evans, the celebrated former editor of London’s The Sunday Times and ex-president of Random House USA, is angry. He fulminates against lazy journalism, against the impenetrability of government announcements, and against the pseudo-legal language of terms and conditions we are bullied into accepting during almost any online transaction these days, no matter how trivial.

Most of all, he wants to push back against the way the digital era is ‘making it easier to obliterate the English language by carpet-bombing us with the bloated extravaganzas of marketing mumbo-jumbo’. He is not so much a Don Quixote as a modern-day linguistic gumshoe, both a detective and an assayer, who confesses: ‘I don’t get mad. I enjoy finding the clues, the footloose modifier, the subject in search of conjugation with a friendly verb, the duplicitous pronoun.’ (But, hey, shouldn’t that first comma be a colon?)

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Richard Walsh

Richard Walsh

Richard Walsh was founding editor of OZ and POL magazines and the weekly newspaper Nation Review. From 1972–86 he was managing director of Angus & Robertson Publishers, and from 1986–96 he headed Australian Consolidated Press. Currently he is Consultant Publisher at Allen & Unwin. He is the author of nine books; his most recent is, Reboot (MUP).

Published in August 2018, no. 403