BROTHER SAM

THE SHORT, SPECTACULAR LIFE OF SAM KINISON

A tasteless, tell-all bio of the outrageous, screaming stand- up comic Kinison, by his manager/brother. But how else to write the life story of a comedian whose tag line was ``Oh! Oh! Aaaaaaugh!'' and whose on-stage rantings included riffs on serial killers, sissy POWs, Satan, crucifixion, Charles Manson, world hunger, cunnilingus, and homosexual necrophilia? The son of a blackballed Pentecostal minister, Kinison was a ``traveling evangelist'' until 1978 when he decided to try stand-up comedy. Starting out in Houston, he felt by 1980 that his loud, vulgar, abrasive routine was ready for the famed Comedy Store in Los Angeles. It took a few years, but by 1983 Kinison had become a ``paid regular.'' He parlayed his growing local notoriety into spots on an HBO special and in Rodney Dangerfield's film Back to School. By 1985, he was nationally known, his screaming diatribes against women and marriage earning him close to $1 million annually. But his drinking, excessive drug use, and abuse of his wives and numerous lovers (who included director Penny Marshall, actress Beverly D'Angelo, and porn star Seka) would take their toll. Despite such powerful admirers as Robin Williams, Howard Stern, and David Letterman, Kinison would alienate the power brokers who might have solidified his career. The ``rock and roll'' comic, Kinison will perhaps best be remembered for his video rendition of ``Wild Thing,'' in which he spits and screams abuse at a writhing, delirious Jessica Hahn (yet another former lover) while snarling Billy Idol and a motley crew of heavy-metal heroes join the fun. Kinison died at the age of 38 in a car accident. At least, writes his brother, ``he did not die of excess'' like John Belushi. Unrestrained, ugly, and grotesquely, perversely captivating. Like the man himself.

Pub Date: May 20, 1994

ISBN: 0-688-12634-0

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 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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DEAR MR. HENSHAW

Possibly inspired by the letters Cleary has received as a children's author, this begins with second-grader Leigh Botts' misspelled fan letter to Mr. Henshaw, whose fictitious book itself derives from the old take-off title Forty Ways W. Amuse a Dog. Soon Leigh is in sixth grade and bombarding his still-favorite author with a list of questions to be answered and returned by "next Friday," the day his author report is due. Leigh is disgruntled when Mr. Henshaw's answer comes late, and accompanied by a set of questions for Leigh to answer. He threatens not to, but as "Mom keeps nagging me about your dumb old questions" he finally gets the job done—and through his answers Mr. Henshaw and readers learn that Leigh considers himself "the mediumest boy in school," that his parents have split up, and that he dreams of his truck-driver dad driving him to school "hauling a forty-foot reefer, which would make his outfit add up to eighteen wheels altogether. . . . I guess I wouldn't seem so medium then." Soon Mr. Henshaw recommends keeping a diary (at least partly to get Leigh off his own back) and so the real letters to Mr. Henshaw taper off, with "pretend," unmailed letters (the diary) taking over. . . until Leigh can write "I don't have to pretend to write to Mr. Henshaw anymore. I have learned to say what I think on a piece of paper." Meanwhile Mr. Henshaw offers writing tips, and Leigh, struggling with a story for a school contest, concludes "I think you're right. Maybe I am not ready to write a story." Instead he writes a "true story" about a truck haul with his father in Leigh's real past, and this wins praise from "a real live author" Leigh meets through the school program. Mr. Henshaw has also advised that "a character in a story should solve a problem or change in some way," a standard juvenile-fiction dictum which Cleary herself applies modestly by having Leigh solve his disappearing lunch problem with a burglar-alarmed lunch box—and, more seriously, come to recognize and accept that his father can't be counted on. All of this, in Leigh's simple words, is capably and unobtrusively structured as well as valid and realistic. From the writing tips to the divorced-kid blues, however, it tends to substitute prevailing wisdom for the little jolts of recognition that made the Ramona books so rewarding.

Pub Date: Aug. 22, 1983

ISBN: 143511096X

Page Count: 133

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 16, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1983

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