"Mitchell is invaluable. Also,
he's enormously entertaining."
"These pieces, articulate,
intelligent, often wildly funny, and frequently dazzling, spring
from a splendid mind, tuned to just the right pitch, and fired with
an angry passion. . . ."
--From the Introduction by
Thomas H. Middleton
Richard Mitchell is author, editor,
printer, and assistant circulation manager of The Underground
Grammarian, a journal that is the frequent subject of comment
and consternation in The New York Times, Time magazine,
and The Wall Street Journal.
In The Leaning Tower of Babel
Mitchell has gathered together a sparkling collection of the best
pieces from The Underground Grammarian. In "Hopefully,
We Could Care Less" he probes the nature of contemporary language.
He ponders the sanity of spending millions to determine exactly
how little our kids should know in "A Minimum Competence to
all, and to all a Good Night!" Essays such as "Maximum
Brain Dysfunction" and "All-Purpose Gobbledygook"
speak for themselves. He levels his shaft at the illogical, the
faddish, and the foolish.
Behind, beyond, around, and under
Mitchell's vivacious wit lurks a serious message. It is easy to
poke fun at the manglers of language and thought: despite our knowing
superiority, however, those manglers, who cannot read or write or
think, are ruining our language, our schools, our institutions,
our society. Those who care about these things, as Mitchell does--read
Mitchell's readers say it--
"If others could offer as much
insight into politics and economics as Richard Mitchell does into
education, we might find the path to world peace and prosperity.
Of course, if more people would heed the Underground Grammarian's
advice, our future leaders might actually learn something useful
about politics and economics."
"…a master diagnostician of
the current grave disease in education. His commonsense solutions
for the rehabilitation of our schools are worthy of the attention
of parents, students, administrators, educators, government officials,
and all concerned citizens. Reading his essays is not only enlightening,
but thoroughly enjoyable."
--Lois De Bakey
"The Underground Grammarian
often makes me writhe with self-doubt and guilt, yet masochistically
I ingest each issue. Without it, life might be worth living again,
but much more boring. UG is never polite, never gentle, never nice,
and never dull."
Richard Mitchell, professor of English
at Glassboro State College, is also author of Less Than Words
Can Say and The Graves of Academe.