NEW YORK IN THE FIFTIES

Nostalgia package for the ``silent generation'' of Eisenhower, a generation that today evidently thinks it was in no way silent. Novelist/journalist Wakefield (Returning, 1988, etc.) arrived in Manhattan as a Columbia student from Indianapolis and was, he tells us, unprepared for the astounding freedom of anonymity that the Upper West Side granted him and for the family feelings he later met with among Greenwich Village bohemians. Younger readers may find these and other memories distant from their own putative needs and, at times, even Wakefield is distant from himself, placing facts from the Sixties back into the Fifties or twice attributing Gordon Jenkins's ghastly musical mÇlange ``Manhattan Towers'' to Stan Kenton or misquoting Allen Ginsberg's ``America.'' Even so, Wakefield talks with his many friends still alive from the Fifties and gets their take on the era. His interviewees include Ginsberg, Norman Mailer, Murray Kempton, Helen Weaver, Joyce Glassman Johnson, Joan Didion, John Gregory Dunne, Calvin Trillin, Gay and Nan Talese, and many others. For himself, he defines the era nicely with, ``Maybe the Village of my generation went from the time Dylan Thomas came to the White Horse [the famed Village tavern where Thomas drank his last drink] to the time Bob Dylan showed up [at the White Horse] that night in 1961 wearing his floppy hat.'' The liveliest passages here survey jazz joints and players; the explosion of On the Road in 1957 and Wakefield's buttoned-down antipathy to it; changes in sexual mores as the pessary showed up; Esquire's creative breakthrough with New Journalism; and the slime- crawl of McCarthyism over Manhattan liberals. Batches of local color refresh those who lived through a lost age, or what Kempton calls ``an age of lead,'' now become ``an age of gold.'' (Photos—24 pages of b&w—not seen.)

Pub Date: May 21, 1992

ISBN: 0-395-51320-0

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1992

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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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