The biography of a synth-band the cognoscenti love to hate, but which has managed to thrive in the hothouse world of British pop and more recently in the US. Depeche Mode was among the first wave of early 1980s British bands who abandoned the previous generation's guitars and drum kits for the cool delights of new musical technologies. Identified with the ``Neo-Romantics''—a fashion-driven outgrowth of punk and new wave—the band's short, melodic songs and good looks made them teen idols but drew equal portions of acclaim and vitriol from critics and older listeners. The group's early albums were produced by Daniel Miller, whose independent Mute label midwived many important, more experimental synth-bands into existence. Together, Miller and Depeche Mode influenced the dance music of the late '80s and helped spawn the harsher ``industrial'' sound now popular in America and the UK. Thompson's book follows the group's founding by Vince Martin (who soon left to form Yaz with Alison Moyet), their early struggles to master their sound, and their ongoing search for critical legitimacy—even as they continued courting British teeny- boppers on TV and in fanzines. Though Thompson's (Red Hot Chili Peppers, not reviewed) reverence for his subjects gets wearisome, longtime fans will no doubt savor details of band members' personal lives. More interesting are the author's comments about synthesizers, sampling, and other music-making technologies (a brief disquisition on the way remixes can reconstruct songs, for example, making them palatable to almost any market, is fascinating). For American readers the book also sheds light on a rather obscure but important period of recent British pop history. Depeche Mode's Songs of Faith and Devotion was America's number-one album in early 1993; Depeche Mode: Some Great Reward—though not so terribly rewarding—will likely capitalize on that success. This book's treasures remain decidedly modest; it fails all too often to rise above puffery and reach a convincing level of critical integrity.

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 1994

ISBN: 0-312-11262-9

Page Count: 288

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 1994

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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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