Cat lovers won’t confuse the author’s verse with T.S. Eliot’s, and Bukowski fans will find this of marginal significance.

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ON CATS

A curious collection of writings about cats, as the self-acknowledged Dirty Old Man of American letters celebrates his feline affinities and affection.

Not nearly as substantial, provocative, or even interesting as this year’s other posthumous Bukowski collection, On Writing, this slim volume features poems and prose pieces—mainly distinguished by the length and formatting—that focus on, feature, or merely mention cats. “I / dislike cute cat / poems / but I’ve written one / anyhow,” writes the author in “My Cat, the Writer.” Though Bukowski didn’t care much for most of humanity, he did like cats a lot. Why? Because as the title of one poem puts it, “A Cat Is a Cat Is a Cat Is a Cat.” The autobiographical pieces reveal that he shared his home with as many as a half-dozen cats at a time and that these cats would bite him, sleep with him (and wake him early), urinate on him, and fight with other cats. Mainly, they were indifferent to him, even his flatulence, and he greatly admired their lack of neediness and their self-possession. “If you’re feeling bad,” he writes, “you just look at the cats, you’ll feel better, because they know that everything is, just as it is. There’s nothing to get excited about. They just know. They’re saviors. The more cats you have, the longer you live.” Bukowski called them his teachers, and he clearly identified with them, especially the bedraggled and stray ones. Of a cat at the vet, somehow walking again after being run over by a car, he writes, “this cat is me. He came to the door starving to death. He knew right where to come. We’re both bums off the street.”

Cat lovers won’t confuse the author’s verse with T.S. Eliot’s, and Bukowski fans will find this of marginal significance.

Pub Date: Oct. 13, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-06-239599-3

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Ecco/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: June 4, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2015

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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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