ALEXANDRA STODDARD'S TEA CELEBRATIONS

THE WAY TO SERENITY

Stoddard (Creating a Beautiful Home, not reviewed) makes some amazing claims about the healing powers of tea in this overwrought little book that focuses less on cooking than on personal memoir, entertaining hints, and egregiously inane aphorisms. Those who plod through the insipid writing will learn that ``each of us, whether broken or whole, is empowered by tea''; that Stoddard's husband thinks she must have been an apprentice tea-master in a former life; and that the sound track from the film Mission serves as the perfect accompaniment to ironing napkins. She spends an inordinate amount of time explaining how to make the tea experience special with everything from mismatched cups and saucers (buying a complete tea set is ``less exciting'' than collecting porcelain piece by piece) to flower arrangements (go asymmetrical, be sparing, let a leaf or blossom overlap the vase, ``play'') to using decorative swizzle sticks to spice up an ordinary glass of hot or cold tea (she seems especially attached to the set she bought at Pier I: ``Sometimes I put the blue ball at the bottom of the glass, and other times I put it at the top for color and delight''). The prize for making it to the end is a chapter of recipes, both sweet and savory, to serve with tea—from lemon bread to watercress-and-egg sandwiches. Most are well explained, one-bowl operations, and the scones are fabulous. But with only 19 recipes, no serious cook will look at this twice. Tea may soothe, but Stoddard will drive you crazy with her self-conscious, precious drivel. (Illustrations, not seen)

Pub Date: Oct. 24, 1994

ISBN: 0-688-13427-0

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1994

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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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