Nature writing at its best.




A short, lovely chronicle of a long hike, during which McKibben (Enough, 2003, etc.) meditatively reflects on the relationship between nature and humanity.

He takes as his jumping-off point a stroll from Vermont to the Adirondacks, traversing land on both sides of Lake Champlain that he knows well. “I’ve not been able to drag myself away from this small corner of the planet,” McKibben notes, wondering whether the no-name region should be called “Adimont” or, perhaps, “the Verandacks.” As he chronicles his walk, he reflects on writing, on the place of agriculture in the curricula of liberal arts colleges, on Theodore Roosevelt’s summer in the Adirondacks (where Vice-President Roosevelt was hiking when President McKinley was shot, ushering in “the greatest environmental presidency of our history,” in McKibben’s view). Some of the most wonderful scenes occur when the author meets up with friends, who all seem to lead lives found most often in Wendell Berry novels. McKibben slips in lessons about environmental policy and science, explaining, for example, the rationales and consequences of conservationists’ decision in the last decade to work with people who have traditionally used the land they are hoping to conserve. His prose is so seductive, however, that readers will barely notice they are being instructed. In some ways, this is the most personal of McKibben’s books thus far. He has invited readers into the place that has inspired his life’s work of writing, politicking, and environmental activism—not the Amazon rain forest or a melting Arctic glacier, but the Adirondacks, which “even the New York State constitution” can’t protect from acid rain or global warming. Yet Wandering Home is intimate without being confined: McKibben roams far, far beyond the Verandacks, beyond even the topic of the environmentalism, to touch on community, local economy, simplicity.

Nature writing at its best.

Pub Date: April 19, 2005

ISBN: 0-609-61073-2

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Crown Journeys

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2005

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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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