Heavy memoir by British novelist/journalist Hudson (Where the Rainbow Ends, 1987, etc.), who goes looking for his younger self that once fleetingly found Paradise in California. Hudson was an established literary journalist in London when in 1976, at age 30, he visited the US on a Harkness Fellowship, ``researching concepts of Paradise in Western thought.'' He asked his mentors at the University of Chicago for an Edenic campus and was directed to the University of California at Santa Cruz (one wonders where they sent students of Hell). Hudson found UCSC congenial, but Paradise itself lay off campus at Topside, an enchanted house in the hills where the author cast aside his English reserve to experience the joys of communal living, nature, and true love. Fifteen years later, he returned to California on a quest for ``C.'' (the initial is his distancing technique) and his former housemates. The result is this memoir, which moves back and forth in time and incorporates chunks of the author's Paradise research. It's an awkward mix: Reflections on Dante and Milton are followed by banal tape-recorded comments of Hudson's former housemates (``I did that relationship stuff early''), most of whom have gravitated into marriages and mainstream America. Hudson discovers a darker side to his recollected Paradise (while he and his lover Laura trysted in the woods, murder victims lay nearby), as well as a C. ``motivated by a desperate unwillingness to let go of his youth.'' What the reader discovers is that, when push came to shove and the author's English girlfriend arrived on the scene, C. was willing enough to let go of Laura and complete his studies in Virginia. Long on pretentiousness (``Apollo had vanquished Dionysus'') and short on rigorous self-examination.

Pub Date: Nov. 7, 1993

ISBN: 0-394-58487-2

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1993

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...



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.


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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