Lifetime of letters largely from Waugh to Lady Diana, a famous beauty ten years his senior, whom he loved but never bedded. Her letters to him have mostly vanished. These are not great letters, nor do they show Waugh at his most brutally Waspish, a celebrated quality that Cooper did not bring out in him. Waugh began writing Lady Diana, her editor/granddaughter Artemis Cooper tells us, in 1932, while deeply depressed (his wife had deserted him in 1929 after barely a year of marriage, after which he'd converted to Catholicism and thought he could not remarry), and went on writing to her until his death in 1966. The letters were lost until they resurfaced in 1987 and went up for sale. Early letters through WW II were posted by Waugh after parties or seeing Lady Diana play the Madonna on stage in The Miracle or while on his many travels to Abyssinia and elsewhere. They are in an intimate shorthand and filled with friends who pass by like fireflies. The letters rarely enter into any subject for more than a few sentences, though Waugh gets fairly stylish about Cyril Connolly: ``I think he sees himself as a sort of Public Relations Officer for Literature...He is a droll old sponge....'' The best letters come in the 1950's, though by then Waugh is a heavy drinker and Diana filled with black bouts of melancholia and her husband laid low with cirrhosis. Waugh asks, ``Darling Baby/Was our evening out hell? I was looking forward to it so much and what must I do but get pissed. I am so awfully sorry and ashamed. What did we talk about?'' Toward the end he's burned out, refers to his works as potboilers, and prays for death—which comes on Easter Sunday. Many charming moments, far apart. (Sixteen pages of b&w photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-395-56265-1

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1991

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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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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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