Review – The Missing Ink

Cover of The Missing Ink by Philip HensherThe Missing Ink, Philip Hensher

I wanted to like this, not least because I bought my mother a hardback copy a while ago because of her interest in all things pen, ink and handwriting. However, after spending most of my time reading it constructing a properly scathing review — if you’re going to complain about someone’s grammar, try not doing so by saying they know “eff-all”; don’t disagree with people just by calling their opinion “crap”; some diversity of vocabulary in general would be nice, you hypocritical snob — I decided I’d just gently put it down. It doesn’t help that I’m very much not the right audience: you can’t get someone to join in a funeral dirge for a lost art of handwriting when they write notes on paper to their grandmother nearly every morning, letters to their mother semi-regularly, keep their accounts in red pen in a book, and own at least a dozen fountain pens.

It doesn’t help that my mother writes and receives several handwritten letters a day, handwrites her diary, and is a moderator at The Fountain Pen Network.

A lot of what he says is true. Typing is taking over; a text may be more convenient than a hand-written note; teachers probably don’t spend a few lessons a week on handwriting. Still, a friend of mine who’s going to be a teacher is carefully trying to improve her handwriting to set a better example; I have two boxes full of letters between me and my partner, me and my parents, me and various friends, etc, etc. I think he’s seeing a confirmation bias: he wants handwriting to be a lost art, so he finds the evidence he’s looking for — and is a snob along the way about grammar and vocabulary, while his is itself pretty woeful.

Plus, if he could’ve avoided snide comments about butch hairstyles and fat girls with “obese handwriting”, I might’ve liked him better.

Rating: 1/5

2 thoughts on “Review – The Missing Ink

  1. Well, I love handwriting and calligraphy, but I’m striking this book off my to-buy list. I don’t need someone chastising me for writing while fat.

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