An absurd yet contemplative chronicle that will charm anyone who believes in rocking hard with a guitar—or with nothing at...

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TO AIR IS HUMAN

THE RISE AND FALL OF BJÖRN TÜROQUE: ONE MAN’S QUEST TO BECOME THE WORLD’S GREATEST AIR GUITARIST

Crane’s debut memoir recounts three whirlwind years braving the contest circuit of a ritual most people only perform behind locked doors.

He began competing in air-guitar competitions in the fall of 2003, just hours after learning about its existence as a sport. (That sort of ironic twist is a typical turn of events for true air guitar heroes, we learn.) Crane’s alter ego during “air-time” is Björn Türoque, a self-proclaimed nihilist who embodies not only the over-the-top technique and pageantry of the world’s premier air guitarists, but who quickly became an ambassador of this newly minted fake rock-’n’-roll lifestyle by appearing on CNN and “Last Call with Carson Daly.” Björn/Dan drags his readers on the road with him from New York to Los Angeles, constructing a riveting narrative through wry observations parceled out in a light, conversational tone. Despite imbibing heavily before, during and after competition rounds, he seems to recall every detail of conversations in the basements of seedy clubs, the minutiae of each flamboyant costume design, all the salient personality traits of the colorful, engaging characters who comprise his competition (and their rabid groupies). What makes this memoir more enduring than Björn’s notoriety for finishing as runner-up in competition—a failure that he proudly claims carries even more rock cachet than winning—are the moments in which he pauses to reflect on the pastime as a cultural event. His text is a social critique whose subjects include the air guitarist as a figure of pure passion, musical “talent” as a relative term, the real fame attained by fake artists. The author’s analyses are offered ironically, but always have the ring of truth.

An absurd yet contemplative chronicle that will charm anyone who believes in rocking hard with a guitar—or with nothing at all.

Pub Date: Aug. 2, 2006

ISBN: 1-59448-210-1

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2006

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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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