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Script and Scribble: The Rise and Fall of Handwriting First Edition Edition

4.5 out of 5 stars 26 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1933633671
ISBN-10: 1933633670
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Editorial Reviews


"This is a book every writer would love, a curio cabinet on the art and act of writing."
- 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

Kitty Burns Florey, a veteran copyeditor, is the author of nine novels (Solos, Souvenir of Cold Springs) and many short stories and essays. With her husband, Ron Savage, she divides her time between central Connecticut and upstate New York.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 225 pages
  • Publisher: Melville House; First Edition edition (November 1, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1933633670
  • ISBN-13: 978-1933633671
  • Product Dimensions: 7.2 x 0.7 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #486,051 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Kitty Burns Florey's "Script & Scribble" is as hilarious as it is timely. With handwriting currently caught in the push-pull between nostalgic yearning and the Internet Age, "write or type?" is a debate that many of us are constantly engaged in internally. Take something as mundane as a thank you letter. You want to convey gratitude and sincerity, two things which do not necessarily summon to mind Times New Roman and a laserjet printer. And yet, as a result of years of banging away on your QWERTY, your penmanship is borderline illegible. And should you sacrifice the speed of email for the formality of snail mail? Burns Florey not only tackles these everyday dilemmas, but adds her own mix of history and humor, making "Script & Scribble" a delight to read. I highly recommend.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As an avid fountain pen collector, this book immediately drew me in. The art of writing by hand is fast becoming a thing of the past -- forget about the virtues of fine penmanship, much less the craft of making fine pens instead of mass produced plastic things with colored goop in them. People yammer endlessly on cell phones, text in code, pound away at keyboards -- or eliminate the handwork entirely and dictate in dull monotone at their 'voice recognition software.' Writing, both the physical act of creating script and the art of stringing words together in complete sentences, is fast becoming a thing of the past. I expected this book would be a thoughtful essay on this topic.

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.
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Format: Hardcover
How much is there to say about handwriting? More than you might think.

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.
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Format: Hardcover
Full disclosure---when I bought this book, shortly after it came out, I was so taken with it I wrote the author a fan letter. She immediately filed a restraining order against me, and I was legally constrained from sending her any more mail. No, no, no, just kidding! She wrote back---a handwritten letter, needless to say---and we have corresponded since, But she does not have any idea I'm posting this review. Certainly she did not ask me to write it, nor would she have.

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.
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