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Script and Scribble: The Rise and Fall of Handwriting
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- Amy Tan, author of Saving Fish from Drowning
"What in God's name has happened to penmanship? It's easy to blame the computer, but, as Kitty Burns Florey demonstrates in her thoughtful, witty, and sensible book, the story goes far deeper than that. It touches on the way we think, the way we write, and the way we lead our lives. Read Script and Scribble and be enlightened."
- Ben Yagoda, author of If You Catch an Adjective, Kill It!
"[A] pithy account of the history of handwriting...Florey makes a solid case for handwriting as a social indicator, and her affection for its art is thoughtful and aesthetically informed."
- Albert Mobilio, Bookforum
"...a witty and readable (and fetchingly illustrated and glossed) excursion through the history of handwriting..."
- Cullen Murphy, The Wall Street Journal
"[H]ighly enjoyable...witty and often endearingly autobiographical."
- Michael Dirda, Washington Post
"[A] charming, illustrated eulogy to a craft that's fast losing its place in the modern world."
- Financial Times
"Florey's argument is nostalgic yet pragmatic. 'It seems wrong,' she says, 'when something beautiful, useful, and historically important vanishes.' Charmingly composed and handsomely presented, Script and Scribble just might provoke a handwriting revival."
- Boston Globe
"Florey lovingly traces the history of handwriting, from its ancient birth to its imminent demise."
- Sam Anderson, New York Magazine
"[A] winsome mix of memoir and call to arms...an entertaining history."
- Editor's Choice, Chicago Tribune
About the Author
Sentences. A veteran copy editor, she has also written nine novels and many short stories and essays. She lives in central Connecticut.
Top Customer Reviews
This book does include a brief history of the development of writing and an interesting discussion of the various teaching methods and penmanship styles of the 18th through 20th centuries. There are some witty observations about the effect of the personal computer on our lives, especially on our (un)willingness and (in)ability to put pen to paper on a day to day basis. There is a discussion of the quirky "graphology" movement. All entertaining, if not extremely enlightening.
But the book also suffers from some serious flaws.
First, sad and sorry production values. As others have noted, there are some glaring glitches like text printed on top of graphics, footnotes misnumbered, typos, the absence of an index. One also would think that a book extolling the virtues of fine handwriting would also be a finely made book. This one is printed on cheap paper and has that "fresh out of a software package" look.
Second, some very thin content. The discussion of the history and current status of the fountain pen is superficial at best and inaccurate at worst.Read more ›
Kitty Burns Florey has taken what seems like a topic for a short magazine article and come up with quite a browsable book in Script and Scribble: The Rise and Fall of Handwriting. She conducts a quick tour of writing, from cuneiform pictograms made with a stylus in wet clay up to handwriting methods taught in schools today. There's a survey of pens and pencils, as well as of typewriters.
Handwriting in popular culture, handwriting analysis, calligraphy, and doodling all come under Florey's scrutiny. She has done a considerable amount of research for the book, but also relies on her own experiences for many examples. Apparently she is quite a pack rat, because she shares many handwriting samples from her own experiences, starting in first grade.
Although this is not an academic book, there are many side notes to elaborate on points made in the text. You don't often see side notes, which are located in the margins unlike the more traditionally placed footnotes or endnotes. The wide margins also leave room for lots of graphics.
Florey, who has also written about diagramming sentences in her previous book Sister Bernadette's Barking Dog: The Quirky History and Lost Art of Diagramming Sentences, is not a dinosaur who is clinging to the past. She accepts and embraces computers and blackberries, but wonders if keyboarding can completely replace handwriting. Students who take notes on laptops tend to transcribe class lectures verbatim. Students who take handwritten notes learn to evaluate while listening so they can pick out the noteworthy bits to write down.Read more ›
Will handwriting survive? It is not hard to imagine a day in the not-overly-distant future, when penilliteracy--I made that term up---will be rampant across the land. As it is today, I suspect lots of people use handwriting only when they are required to sign a legal document. They don't write checks anymore, because of debit cards and online banking. So, for a lot of people, handwriting has become analogous to singing. A century ago, people sang a lot more---in church, in community gatherings, or around the piano at home with family and friends. But now we tend much more to associate music with recorded music, and the participatory element has diminished. And because people don't sing much, they get out of practice, and on about the only remaining occasion on which we still do---a birthday party---people often sound dreadful, and very self-conscious. ( I know I do.) And people are that way about their handwriting. They don't have to use a pen, so their handwriting deteriorates, to the point where they are terribly embarrassed when other people see their ungainly scrawl. That embarrassment is a hopeful sign to me, because it signifies that people still feel having good, legible penmanship is something to be valued.
Next time you go into an antique store, thumb through the boxfuls of old postcards.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Entertaining while educative, for those who love the vanishing art of handwriting.Published 3 months ago by J. Sternberg
This is a terrific book, pointing out that children should learn to handwrite legibly (which imparts universal spontaneous literacy) as well as learn to keyboard in this computer... Read morePublished 9 months ago by Robert V. Rose, retired education researcher
As a high school English and history teacher who advocates cursive in our curriculum, I thoroughly enjoyed Script & Scribble. Read morePublished 15 months ago by Tenn. RA Mason
The author has written an interesting, educational, funny book about handwriting. She tracks the human need for writing in cave drawings, pictograms, Egyptian hieroglyphs,... Read morePublished 15 months ago by Peggy Best
I thoroughly enjoyed this book and I wish I could write this in pen and ink, and in proper Palmer cursive. It's a fascinating study and a delightful read. Read morePublished on February 22, 2014 by Deepo
The phrase that kept coming up was, "Who knew?!" Great discussion of the skill we've all lived with all our lives but really never understood. Read morePublished on February 4, 2014 by Mark D. Elliott Jr.
This book made me think about handwriting again and made me look at it in a whole new light. I hadn't used cursive (as taught by the Palmer Method) in probably twenty years but was... Read morePublished on April 7, 2013 by James D. Crabtree
How it all got started and how the teaching of penmanship has declined. I had great teachers in school or so I thought but this really shows that all the email and electronic... Read morePublished on March 13, 2013 by Ron & Ruth Gibbs