A spirited, perceptive, and honest look at longevity.



A writer offers a personal perspective on aging.

In relating the stages of life to the quarters of a business year, Kaufman (On the Road to Halicz, 2016, etc.) appropriately labels his own situation the “fourth quarter,” a time that “is full, rich and a regrouping exercise.” With a certain amount of wistfulness combined with wry humor, the 90-year-old author serves a poignant, wide-ranging, first-person narrative that addresses the physical, emotional, and mental aspects of aging. He also discusses and reacts to some of the subjects that can be both fascinating and perplexing to old and young alike, including artificial intelligence, globalization, and medical technology. Kaufman’s informal style is engaging, especially when he reflects on the realities of aging. He observes, for example, that he is always surprised by “everybody trying not to accept this rusted mechanism called age.” His descriptions can be downright funny when he considers “the little whammies” that happen to the elderly, such as having “a brigade catering to my health….Practically every little piece of me has a specialist.” Behind the humor is insight into the harshness of longevity. He notes, for instance, that “it is puzzling to see the tremendously accumulated” and invaluable “knowledge of the aged being disregarded and squandered.” But later, the author exudes optimism: “Age has its sunny spots too. Lots of them. One of them is to talk to toddlers, children and young people.” These somewhat contradictory pearls of wisdom are representative of a time of life that can be simultaneously hopeful and hopeless, which Kaufman fully acknowledges. While his astute observations make for intellectually stimulating content, this long essay is for the most part a broad conversation that abruptly moves from one subject to another in an almost stream-of-consciousness fashion. The writing is a bit sloppy at times, but it doesn’t mar the author’s sincerity. Kaufman speaks directly to others who are living in the “Fourth Quarter,” and it is hard not to embrace his exhortation to “live it up in any shape and manner.…Go out and start some fires. It is invigorating.”

A spirited, perceptive, and honest look at longevity.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: 978-0-578-41715-8

Page Count: -

Publisher: Intervale Publishing

Review Posted Online: March 1, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2019

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



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.


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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