Flashing fruity, then penumbral, with little surety of itself.

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THE OLIVE SEASON

AMOUR, A NEW LIFE AND OLIVES, TOO

A fussy, lugubrious sequel to The Olive Farm (2001), with the actress author’s moods swinging madly from rapture to complaint to melancholy.

The meandering, distracted course these ruminations will take is evident from the opening salvo recounting Drinkwater’s wedding on one of the tiny Cook Islands in the South Pacific. Once she gets back to her Provençal olive farm, the scene is all juniper and lavender and a baby on the way, with plenty of ripe prose: “The sun is rising into honeydew clouds that drift out of sight.” Then she moves on to the obligatory, endless fencing with the French bureaucracy (Drinkwater and her husband are trying to get regional certification of their olive grove) and the difficulty of getting laborers to either get on with their work or get the work done correctly. (“These apiarists are an irritatingly cranky and elusive breed.”) Drinkwater drops too many French words into the text only to translate them in the next breath (“Le figuier. The fig. Its botanical origins are uncertain but . . .”), giving it a clubfoot to go along with the anxious prose, which caroms off bee fossils, the origin of bamboo, dinner ingredients, and Napoleon's reputation. She conveys an impression of overactivity rather than attentiveness and doesn’t get a good fix on any of her subjects. A devastating miscarriage, coupled with the news that she will likely never be able to bear children, plays against the tedious backdrop of the television show Drinkwater is shooting at the time. While she grapples with her feelings, she also tackles the story of a diviner who comes to find water for their orchard expansion, perhaps the most focused episode here, and certainly the best.

Flashing fruity, then penumbral, with little surety of itself.

Pub Date: May 26, 2003

ISBN: 1-58567-235-1

Page Count: 340

Publisher: Overlook

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2003

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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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