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Oldie, but Goodie

Just found this lovely review of my Niwaki book, can’t resist sharing it...
31 March 2011 Message: Jake,
I just had to take a moment to send you a note to compliment you on your
fabulous book, “Niwaki: Pruning, Shaping and Training Trees the Japanese
Way”. I am finding this book fascinating, and for many different reasons.
First, it is incredibly informative, and is exactly what I was interested
in finding for the landscaping I’m working on for my newly purchased
mid-century modern home.
But more than that, I find your writing style to be incredibly pleasing.
I’m a Professor of the Arts here at the University of North Texas. The
stylistic and descriptive choices you make in your prose suggest very
plainly that you have a background in the arts. It’s eloquent without
being stuffy, authoritative without being didactic, and is witty and
charming, all the while holding true to the tradition, rigor, and stricture
of this art (though it seems that the notion of fluidity is really its only
Usually, when I pick up a “how to” book, I brace myself for stilted
writing. I even can overlook the odd grammatical error or two. After all,
the “how to” book is utilitarian, not aesthetically intended. Worse yet,
however, some authors try failingly to impose a style on their writing in
these books that at best comes off as contrived, and at worst, is so silly
it forces me to read the book in short spurts so as to not become the
blind-to-information and quixotically impotent copy editor. I can’t see
the “information” trees for the “horrible writing” forest.
Such is not the case with this book. You’re a wonderful writer, and I find
myself trusting your knowledge all the more precisely because of the care
that you took with your writing. Again, you write as though you are
submitting an entry for a exhibition catalog, not a “how to” book. Thank
you so much for this informative text and for all of the loving research
you’ve done.
Now off to prune (hopefully not butcher) my first tree, and learn a few
things in the process.
Jim B