BEYOND THE GODFATHER

ITALIAN AMERICAN WRITERS ON THE REAL ITALIAN AMERICAN EXPERIENCE

A wide-ranging collection of essays that attempts to define ``the Italian American experience,'' in reaction to the ``too successful'' Godfather films, which ``have held up an image that has obliterated the reality.'' Divided into three sections encompassing personal memoir, Italian-American literature, and ``identity politics,'' the anthology is put together by novelist and critic Parini (Benjamin's Crossing, p. 410, etc.) and Ciongoli, a neurologist and president of the National Italian American Foundation. Several of the contributors are familiar names, such as Gay Talese, whose ``Origins of a Nonfiction Writer'' looks at the fascinating precincts of his mother's dress shop, where what he ``heard and witnessed . . . was much more interesting and educational than what [he] learned from the black-robed censors'' in parochial school. Dana Gioia chips in with an examination of Italian-American poetry, while Fred GardaphÇ looks at his ``life's reading'' of such writers as Pietro di Donato, John Fante, and Mario Puzo. Edvige Giunta echoes GardaphÇ in her lengthy paean to Tina De Rosa's Paper Fish, ``a landmark in Italian American literature.'' In another arena, Richard Gambino posits that ``wildly . . . inauthentic myths . . . have come to serve as a substitute among Italian Americans for an authentic, developed identity.'' Linda Hutcheon writes of ``crypto- Italians'' such as herself, Cathy Davidson, Sandra Gilbert, and Marianna Torgovnick, who, through marriage, become ``a silenced marker of Italian heritage.'' Parini describes his quest to learn if his ``emotional connections'' to the Old Country were ``real, or just a piece of trumped-up sentimentality.'' Occasionally, the personal reflections become intensely uncomfortable, as in Louise DeSalvo's recollections of vicious fights between her mother and her step-grandmother. Informative and engaging, but perhaps too evenhanded. Too many of the essays lack the passion and the lusty good humor that are trademarks of Italian-American culture.

Pub Date: Oct. 31, 1997

ISBN: 0-87451-845-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1997

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...

THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE

50TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION

Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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Analyzing his craft, a careful craftsman urges with Thoreauvian conviction that writers should simplify, simplify, simplify.

SEVERAL SHORT SENTENCES ABOUT WRITING

New York Times columnist and editorial board member delivers a slim book for aspiring writers, offering saws and sense, wisdom and waggery, biases and biting sarcasm.

Klinkenborg (Timothy; or, Notes of an Abject Reptile, 2006), who’s taught for decades, endeavors to keep things simple in his prose, and he urges other writers to do the same. (Note: He despises abuses of the word as, as he continually reminds readers.) In the early sections, the author ignores traditional paragraphing so that the text resembles a long free-verse poem. He urges readers to use short, clear sentences and to make sure each one is healthy before moving on; notes that it’s acceptable to start sentences with and and but; sees benefits in diagramming sentences; stresses that all writing is revision; periodically blasts the formulaic writing that many (most?) students learn in school; argues that knowing where you’re headed before you begin might be good for a vacation, but not for a piece of writing; and believes that writers must trust readers more, and trust themselves. Most of Klinkenborg’s advice is neither radical nor especially profound (“Turn to the poets. / Learn from them”), and the text suffers from a corrosive fallacy: that if his strategies work for him they will work for all. The final fifth of the text includes some passages from writers he admires (McPhee, Oates, Cheever) and some of his students’ awkward sentences, which he treats analytically but sometimes with a surprising sarcasm that veers near meanness. He includes examples of students’ dangling modifiers, malapropisms, errors of pronoun agreement, wordiness and other mistakes.

Analyzing his craft, a careful craftsman urges with Thoreauvian conviction that writers should simplify, simplify, simplify.

Pub Date: Aug. 7, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-307-26634-7

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2012

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