MY LIFE AS A REAL DOG, BY DIDO

Acting as ghostwriter for his ``chocolate'' Labrador, Dido, well-known British espionage author Pincher (The Spycatcher Affair, 1988, etc.) here attempts to make a detailed study of the human- canine relationshipwith middling results. In the various chapters on eating, sleeping, fitness, sense, communications, discipline, and both physical and psychological behavior, Pincher/Dido comments on the differences and similarities between people and dogs. The comparisons are ongoing and relentless, from the big things (both are pack animals by nature and in need of constant companionship) down to the little things (the manner in which each yawns, sneezes, and snores). Pincher uses the book as a venue in which to rail about various ills of mankind, like overindulgence in eating, drinking, and smoking and how, for example, human sewage is much more of an environmental problem than dog droppings. The book is rife with punning expressions``not my cup of milk,'' ``the answer is sticking out like a sore paw,'' ``I'll be man-gone''that simply get annoying after a while, as do many of Pincher's sentiments on other topics: He's a strong hunting advocate; he's against having his dog neutered yet makes no statement whatsoever on the pet overpopulation problem. This is not to say that there isn't some material of interest here; there are many valid insights into the nature of canines and humans, and there is one rather enlightening chapter at the end in which the author speculates on whether dogs have souls and, thus, an afterlifea subject rarely, if ever, explored in books of this nature. Instead of the lighthearted approach one might expect from a book written from a dog's point of view, this work is, on the whole, serious, intellectual, and rather dry. (6 wash drawings, not seen)

Pub Date: Oct. 26, 1995

ISBN: 1-56836-116-5

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Kodansha

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1995

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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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