Writing with Grace

The title of my favorite book on writing is Style: Lessons in Clarity and Grace. That last word, grace, came to mind as I copyedited a book review this past week. The book, I need to tell you, was titled Matter and Form in Early Modern Science and Philosophy; it was edited by someone named Gideon Manning. 

The review began in an ungraceful way:

The volume’s forward, by Mordechai Feingold, notes . . .

Forward is of course wrong—it should be foreword—and when first referring to a book under review, this rather than the is what’s needed (“This volume’s foreword”). But what makes the beginning ungraceful is the use of a possessive right off the bat and, even more so, that it is too shorthand, relying as it does on the template of information that precedes the review itself—the template listing the author’s or editor’s name, the title of the book, and so on.

So let's revise to get rid of the possessive and to give the full title of the work:

In the foreword to Matter and Form in Early Modern Science and Philosophy, Mordechai Feingold notes that . . .

But there is still a problem: Who is Mordechai Feingold, and what is his connection to the book? Why was the foreword written by, of all people, him?

I learned, after a quick search, that Mordechai Feingold is the editor of a series in which the book appears. That needs to be stated in the opening sentence of the review:

In the foreword to Matter and Form in Early Modern Science and Philosophy, Mordechai Feingold, the editor of the series in which this book appears, notes that . . .

Ideally, we would also be told the title of the series. But at that point, we might risk overloading the sentence with information.