Short Takes : Model Essays for Composition

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  • Edition: 8th
  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 1/1/2005
  • Publisher: Longman
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This lively collection of fifty-six short, readable essays by both student and professional writers provides useful models of the rhetorical modes. Features 26 new essays on diverse subjects such as technology and the Internet, the events of September 11 and terrorism, college athletics, and medical research

Table of Contents

Thematic Guide xiii
Preface xvii
Freeze Frame: Reading and Writing 1(310)
1 On Using Description
A Sandwich
Nora Ephron
"The hot pastrami sandwich served at Langer's delicatessen in down-town Los Angeles is the finest hot pastrami sandwich in the world."
Deep Cold
Verlyn Klinkenborg
"If deep cold made a sound, it would be the scissoring and gnashing of a skater's blades against hard gray ice, or the screeching the snow sets up when you walk across it in the blue light of the afternoon."
The Bridge
Jason Holland
"The bridge was county property, but my friends and I felt like we were the owners. It was a mutual relationship. We owned the bridge, and the bridge owned us."
El Hoyo
Mario Suarez
"From the center of downtown Tucson the ground slopes gently away to Main Street, drops a few feet,-and then rolls to the banks of the Santa Cruz River. Here lies the section of the city known as El Hoyo."
Left Sink
Ellery Akers
In the world of the bathroom the light shelf was a delicatessen of the highest order. Light Buddha sat there night after glorious night, lazily snapping up moths as they fluttered past. The other two frogs seemed content to stake out the sinks, which weren't quite as depend-able a food source, though they weren't bad."
2 On Using Narration
Designer of Audio CD Packaging Enters Hell
Steve Martin
"The burning gates of Hell were opened and the designer of CD pack-aging entered to the Devil's fanfare. 'We've been wanting him down here for a long time,' The One of Pure Evil said to his infernal minions,
Learning, then College
Meg Gifford
"I acknowledge that postponing college is not easy. Few people sup-ported my decision, telling me that once I stopped my education I'd never get back on track."
The Night of Oranges
Flavius Stan
"It is Christmas Eve in 1989 in Timisoara and the ice is still dirty from the boots of the Romanian revolution."
Time to Look and Listen
Magdoline Asfahani
"The America that I love is one that values freedom and the differences of its people."
The Pie
Gary Soto
"I nearly wept trying to decide which to steal and, forgetting the flowery dust priests give off the shadow of angels and the proximity of God howling in the plumbing underneath the house, sneaked a pie behind my coffee-lid Frisbee and walked to the door, grinning to the bald grocer whose forehead shone with a window of light."
3 On Using Definition
Chocolate Equals Love
Diane Ackerman
"What food do you crave? Add a hint of mischief to your desire, and the answer is bound to be chocolate. Dark, divine, sense-bludgeoning chocolate."
I Was a Member of the Kung Fu Crew
Henry Han Xi Lau
"Chinatown is ghetto, my friends are ghetto, I am ghetto. I went away to college last year, but I still have a long strand of hair that reaches past my chin."
The Handicap of Definition
William Raspberry
"[I]t occurs to me that one of the heaviest burdens black American-and black children in particular-have to bear is the handicap of definition: the question of what it means to be black."
The Myth of the Matriarch
Gloria Naylor
"I've seen how this female image has permeated the American consciousness to the point of influencing everything from the selling of pancakes to the structuring of welfare benefits. But the strangest thing is that when I walked around my neighborhood or went into the homes of family and friends, this matriarch was nowhere to be found."
Where Nothing Says Everything
Suzanne Berne
At least, nothing is what it first looked like, the space that is now ground zero. But once your eyes adjust to what you are looking at, 'nothing' becomes something much more potent, which is absence."
4 On Using Example
Sweatin' for Nothin'
Michael Barlow
"We have treadmills, rowing machines, stairmasters, stationary bikes, Nordic Tracks, butt busters, and wall climbers and we labor at them while going nowhere. Absolutely nowhere! We do work that is beyond useless; we do work that takes energy and casts it to the wind like lint. And we don't even enjoy the work. Look at people in a health club. See anybody smiling?"
Stop Ordering Me Around
Stacey Wilkins
"Food-service positions are the last bastion of accepted prejudice. People go into a restaurant and openly torment the waiter, leave a small tip and don't think twice about it."
A Black Fan of Country Music Finally Tells All
Lena Williams
"For most of my adult life, I was a closet country music fan. I'd hide my Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson albums between the dusty, pyschedelic rock."
The Joy of Starvation
James Gorman
"I started thinking about the old days, when it was the dishes you had to use detergent on, not the food. I decided that muzzling the health press was a good idea after all."
Bananas for Rent
Michiko Kakutani
"Even bananas have been colonized as billboard space, with stickers promoting the video release of 'Space Jam' and the 'Got Milk?' campaign turning up on the fruit."
5 On Using Division and Classification
The New York Walk: Survival of the Fiercest
Caryn James
"I know better than to talk back to guy"; who hassle women on the street. But on one weird August afternoon, I was caught in pedestrian gridlock in Times Square and the humidity turned my common sense to mush."
Always, Always, Always
Bill Rohde
"Tell the metaphor-happy student that commas are like dividers between ketchup, mustard, and mayonnaise; fences between dogs, cats, and chickens; or borders between Israel, Syria, and Lebanon. Without them, messes result."
The Search for Human Life in the Maze of Retail Stores
Michelle Higgins
"Attention, shoppers; It is getting even tougher to get help in the aisles."
The Plot Against People
Russell Baker
"Inanimate objects are classified into three major categories-those that don't work, those that break down and those that get lost."
Desert Religions
Richard Rodriguez
"These have been months of shame and violence among the three great desert religions-Judaism, Christianity, and Islam-the religions to which most Americans adhere."
6 On Using Comparison and Contrast
Living on Tokyo Time
Lynnika Butler
In Japan, time is measured in the same hours and minutes and days as anywhere else, but it is experienced as a fundamentally different phenomenon."
Playing House
Denise Leight
"With the number of marriages ending in divorce these days, it sounds reasonable that many couples want to give marriage a trial run before making any formal commitment. But do the chances of a successful marriage actually improve by cohabiting?"
World and America Watching Different Wars
Danna Harman
"The gruesome video shown Sunday on Al Jazeera-reaching 35 million Arab-speakers worldwide, including about 20 percent of the Egyptian population-will probably never be seen by the average American TV viewer."
Two Ways to Belong in America
Bharati Mukherjee
"This is a tale of two sisters from Calcutta, Mira and Bharati, who have lived in the United States for some 35 years, but who find themselves on different sides in the current debate over the status of immigrants."
The Raven
Barry Lopez
"I am going to have to start at the other end by telling you this: there are no crows in the desert. What appear to be crows are ravens."
7 On Using Process
Laura Carlson
"My steps are slow to start. I feel my legs tighten and restrain me, not wanting to exert the effort to propel me forward...."
How to Swat a Fly
Will Cuppy
"The Fly who refuses to settle is a problem for advanced swatters, and not an easy one."
A Woman's Place
Naomi wolf
"Next time, ask: What's the worst that will happen? Then push your-self a little further than you dare. Once you start to speak, people will yell at you. They will interrupt, put you down and suggest it's personal. And the world won't end."
Independence Day
Dave Barry
"If Martha Stewart comes anywhere near my picnic, she's risking a barbecue fork to the eyeball' should be your patriotic motto."
Inspiration? Head Down the Back Road, and Stop for the Yard Sales
Annie Proulx
"The Irish singer Christy Moore clips out Don't Forget Your Shovel, 'a song I like not only for its tripping rhythm and sly social commentary but for its advice to the diggers of the world, a group to which I belong."
8 On Using Cause and Effect
Tiffany Stephenson-An Apology
Bjorn Skogquist
"I know now that people need each other, and I wish I could tell the fourth grade that we could all be friends, that we could help each other with our problems. I wish that I could go back. But all I can do is apologize."
When Music Heals Body and Soul
Oliver Sacks
"All of us have all sorts of personal experiences with music: We find ourselves calmed by it, excited by it, comforted by it, mystified by it and often haunted by it."
Wrestling with Myself
George Felton
"Wrestling may be a hybrid genre-the epic poem meets Marvel Comics via the soap opera-but its themes, with their medieval tone, could hardly be simpler warrior kings doing battle after battle to see who is worthy, women pushed almost to the very edges of the landscape, Beowulf's heroic ideal expressed in the language of an after-school brawl: 'I wanna do what I wanna do. You gonna try to stop me?"'
Black Men and Public Space
Brent Staples
"After dark, on the warrenlike streets of Brooklyn where I live, I often see women who fear the worst from me."
When Here Sees There
George Packer
"If the world seems to be growing more, rather than less, nasty these days, it might have something to do with the images all of us now carry around in our heads."
9 On Using Argument
Last Rites for Indian Dead
Suzan Shown Harjo
"What if museums, universities, and government agencies could put your dead relatives on display or keep them in boxes to be cut up and otherwise studied?"
Gay Marriages: Make Them Legal
Thomas B. Stoddard
"The decision whether or not to marry belongs properly to individuals-not the government."
High School, an Institution Whose Time Has Passed
Leon Botstein
"Beginning with the seventh grade, there should be four years of secondary education that we may call high school. Young people should graduate at 16, not 18."
Don't Impede Medical Progress
Virginia Postrel
"To many biologists, the recently announced creation of a cloned human embryo was no big deal."
One Internet, Two Nations
Henry Louis Gates, Jr.
"Today we stand at the brink of becoming two societies, one largely white and plugged in and the other black and unplugged."
Internet Not For Everyone
Robyn Greenspan
"Could there be a population that time forgot? Are there people that don't actually live by the immediacy of the Web?"
10 For Further Reading: Multiple Modes, Varied Opinions 311(1)
Cutting the Field
Welch Suggs
"But increasingly, colleges in Division I are stripping away 'minor' sports and focusing on 'major' ones."
End the Hypocrisy on College Athletics
Cynthia Tucker
"College athletes are prized university employees who attract money and alumni support. They ought to be paid accordingly."
Show Us the Money
Jeremy Bloom
"[T]he National Collegiate Althletic Association not only rules college athletics, it also limits the opportunities of the 360,000 student athletes it purports to serve."
Ringing Hollow
Sean Burns
"Even the most vividly rendered battle sequences begin to feel like just more of the same, and after a while you start to wonder if the movie is ever going to end."
Grit and Spectacle Help 'Lord' Ring True
Duane Dudek
"Fellowship of the Ring may or may not mark the birth of a brave new world of fantasy film, but it does set a new standard against which other such films should be compared."
Torture Warrants?
Harvey A. Silverglate
"Among the unsettling effects of the September 11 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington and the anthrax mailings that followed is their triggering, seemingly overnight, of a national debate over whether the United States should practice torture-as a matter of national policy-to combat terrorism."
Torture Should Not Be Authorized
Philip B. Heymann
335 (2)
Yes, It Should Be on the Books
Alan M. Dershowitz
Credits 339(4)
Index of Authors, Essays, and Terms 343

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