Despite the collection’s inevitable repetition, it provides another necessary, unsettling window into alcohol and art.

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ON DRINKING

A writer confronts his muse, “my woman, my wine, my god.”

Following writing, cats, and love, this is the fourth in what has become a series of Bukowski (1920-1994) anthologies edited by former Fulbright scholar and current Marie Curie fellow Debritto. Drinking is one of the activities the self-described “life-long alcoholic” was most famous for—and was usually accompanied by writing. Covering the period from 1961 to 1992, the book is a hodgepodge of previously published and unpublished poetry, prose, interviews, letters, humorous drawings, and some photographs, most of the author with a bottle of beer or wine. Bukowski was always honest about his disease. In a 1971 interview, when asked if he was an alcoholic, he responded, “Hell, yes.” He was proud of his capacity for drinking and writing in spite of the suffering and hospital visits it caused. Never a fan of drugs, when drinking, he preferred writing poetry over prose, which was “too much work.” In 1989, he wrote to a friend, “I think I write as well sober as drunk. Took me a long time to find that out.” The collection reveals a man who claims he’s old and getting older, has worked odd jobs here and there, had sex with many women, and written a lot: “I drink when I write. It’s good luck, it’s background music.” Thank goodness Bukowski could laugh about his plight. Responding to an interviewer, he says, “In fact, I am drinking as I answer these questions.” This is a sad and depressing portrait of a talented man in self-destruct mode. In another interview, he says, “drinking is a form of suicide….It’s like killing yourself, and then you’re reborn.” The title of a 1973 poem says it all: “another poem about a drunk and then I’ll let you go.

Despite the collection’s inevitable repetition, it provides another necessary, unsettling window into alcohol and art.

Pub Date: Feb. 12, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-285793-4

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Ecco/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 14, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2018

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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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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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