It won’t take the place of Strunk and White, but a useful addition to any writer’s bookshelf.



A forgiving—a purist might say overly forgiving—handbook for those in need of remedial grammar lessons, a category that includes most college students.

Yagoda (Journalism/Univ. of Delaware; Memoir: A History, 2010, etc.) appreciates the Anne Lamotts, William Zinssers and E.B. Whites of the world, but he fears that their entreaties to add beauty to the language are misplaced. “Most students, I’ve found, can’t handle writing ‘well.’ At this point in their writing lives,” he writes, “that goal is simply too ambitious.” He later elaborates: The chief task is to rid students of such bad habits as stacked prepositional phrases and dysparallelism. Thus this handbook and its grating title: The goal is not to write well, but not to write badly—or, now that we don’t have to worry about split infinitives, to not write badly. Yagoda strives a little too hard for laughs at times, but showmanship is part of the game. Much of what he has to say is the stuff of every other writing handbook, especially the admonition that every good writer—every not-bad writer, that is—is a good reader. But Yagoda occasionally turns in a truly fresh take on a problem, and this dictum alone is worth the price of admission: “When possible, make the subject of a sentence a person, a collection of persons, or a thing.” Pair that with the injunction to avoid two spaces after a period, and you’ve got the makings of improved writing already, even allowing for Yagoda’s liberal take on split infinitives and the use of “they” as the pronoun for a singular subject.

It won’t take the place of Strunk and White, but a useful addition to any writer’s bookshelf.

Pub Date: Feb. 5, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-59448-848-1

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: Jan. 6, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2013

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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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Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)

Pub Date: May 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-19-508629-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1995

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