Why Structure Matters

This is a review I just wrote of Martha’s Vineyard Basketball (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2015). Even if you have zero interest in Martha’s Vineyard or basketball, the comments on structural editing might be useful, especially to nonfiction writers. Moral of story: Your research may be impeccable and your sentences reasonably well crafted, but if your book isn’t sensibly organized your readers are going to have a hard time getting through it.

From the Seasonally Occupied Territories . . .

Slightly adapted from the review I just posted on Goodreads . . .

MV Basketball coverNo, I’m not a sports fan, but my fascination with the Vineyard and anything related to race and class is insatiable, so I had such hopes for this book. Class is a shifty thing on Martha’s Vineyard. It doesn’t look like what one reads about in textbooks or sees in urban areas. Here, as elsewhere in the U.S., we bend over backwards to avoid seeing it. It’s complicated by the distinction between the year-round population and the “summer people”; by the ethnic groups with deep roots here (especially Wampanoag, Anglo, Portuguese, and Cape Verdean); and by the long history of African Americans on the island.

What a great idea, I thought: to explore “notions of race and class” by focusing on basketball, specifically the summer basketball program that started in 1970. Basketball does bring together people from…

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