An extraordinary remembrance that’s both gut-wrenching and inspiring.



A writer recollects an astonishingly dysfunctional childhood under the violent, criminal tyranny of his father. 

According to debut author Crow, his father, Thurston, was as intelligent as he was dangerous—apparently the bearer of an uncommonly high IQ, he was also alarmingly volatile. Thurston spent time in prison for nearly beating a man to death and often bragged about other murders he committed or planned to perpetrate. He was also an unrepentant thief who recruited the author to be his accomplice in crime. When Crow was not yet 4 years old, Thurston confided in him that he would soon get rid of Thelma Lou, the author’s mother. Thurston finally forced Crow to orchestrate their abandonment of her. Thelma Lou was mentally disturbed, and her combination of incompetence and motherly negligence consistently endangered her children. The author idolized his father, nevertheless, and pined to become “smart and strong and brave” just like Thurston, sometimes perversely winning his praise for ungovernable mischievousness. Crow struggled at school—he was diagnosed with dyslexia—but still managed to graduate from college and eventually win a position with the U.S. Department of Agriculture administration. But Thurston’s madness continued to haunt the author—his father tried to pull Crow’s sister, Sally, into a conspiracy to commit a crime. The author finally felt the need to stop his father and found the courage to try. Crow’s memoir is cinematically gripping—the depth of Thurston’s sociopathic depravity is as riveting as it is repulsive. The author deftly relates that his father conceived the conspiracy with cunning cynicism: “Dad’s logic was simple: He knew that if he involved Sally…she would ask for my help, even when she swore to keep silent. And he knew that I wouldn’t let anything happen to Sally.” Crow writes with confessional frankness and affectingly depicts a childhood lost to emotional and physical abuse. He also thoughtfully captures life on a Native American reservation—Crow partially grew up on a Navajo one.

An extraordinary remembrance that’s both gut-wrenching and inspiring. 

Pub Date: May 7, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-9974871-7-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Sandra Jonas Publishing House

Review Posted Online: July 12, 2019

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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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