Self-help for aspiring writers, who need, it seems, to zap the red sauce of their prose with tangier verbs.
In a text that looks like many others in the self-help genre (lots of sidebars, multiple appendixes, forests of exclamation points, bushels of bullet points and gee-whiz-this-stuff-is-easy! diction), Hale (Sin and Syntax: How to Craft Wickedly Effective Prose, 1999, etc.) offers plenty of advice for would-be writers. Each chapter follows the title’s structure, dealing, in sequence, with things that vex writers, grammar myths the author wishes to discredit, the failings of “writers famous and infamous, hapless and clueless” and, finally, exemplary passages. This soon grows tiresome. However, the author has done considerable homework and is careful to credit her sources and mentors (David Crystal, Steven Pinker and many others). She also assails dragons long-ago slain or grievously wounded—split infinitives, for example, or prepositions at the ends of sentences. Her attacks on the language of politicians (often George W. Bush and Sarah Palin) fail to recognize that everyone makes grammatical mistakes in extemporaneous speech and that speechwriters deserve the credit and the blame for the rest. She calls Ronald Reagan a “rhetorical genius,” though it was more likely Peggy Noonan. The author tries to make it all seem so easy, and she enjoys chiding the strict grammarian types who are more fastidious than she. Hale’s explanations of the differences between affect and effect and lie and lay are generally clear.
Bubbling with energy and conviction but less practical than an old-fashioned style manual.
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").
Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)