A book that’s fearless in the face of fact.

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DAVE BARRY’S HISTORY OF THE MILLENIUM (SO FAR)

With the third millennium more than one half of one percent finished, humorist/novelist Barry (The Shepherd, the Angel, and Walter the Christmas Dog, 2006, etc.) is the first kid on the block to decide it’s high time for its history.

Ah, the nostalgia! Those magnificent Enron years—or maybe they were great WorldCom years—seem like only yesterday! How could we have forgotten The Election from Hell, Kelsey Grammer, color-coded security alarms, Elián González or a man named Dan Rather? Month by month, historian Barry carefully chronicles the science, the politics and the necrology of those years so long ago. He covers the usual scourges (Iraq, hurricanes, killer spinach and lawyers), the laughs (Congress, “coalition forces” and lawyers) and the criminals (Osama, Winona Ryder and Martha Somebody). Ever the environmentalist, Barry recycles. In this case, his text is largely reclaimed from annual newspaper columns. Because it was just so rotten, the year 2001 is entirely omitted. But an added feature, sure to be of value to students everywhere, is a 30-page survey of the delightful previous millennium, Y1K. Some years are skipped to get to the good parts, and Barry is up to hoary old tricks: non sequiturs, running gags, mish-mashed metaphors. This is history willy-nilly, and, unusual for Barry, it’s entirely booger-free.

A book that’s fearless in the face of fact.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-399-15437-9

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2007

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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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