Prog fans will take to this book like Keith Emerson to an upside-down Hammond.

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THE SHOW THAT NEVER ENDS

THE RISE AND FALL OF PROG ROCK

Dinosaurs once roamed the Earth. Then came prog rock, as this partial but pleasing account of the love-it-or-hate-it genre chronicles.

As Washington Post reporter Weigel cheerfully admits, professing a love for progressive rock—that sometimes-pretentious, sometimes-endless blend of rock, classical, and jazz forms whose chief premise would seem to be an absence of any discernible African-American influence—can quickly get a person branded as a dweeb. Indeed, as the narrative opens, the author is among “the most uncool people in Miami,” preparing to climb aboard a cruise ship with “the living gods of progressive rock,” namely mostly old men with what rock writer John Strausbaugh uncharitably called “melting cheese faces.” They are also mostly British, and Weigel does a good job of describing what happened to American rock when it fell into the hands of the British kids in orchestra, filtered by way of psychedelic rock and its “simple formula” of guitar, drums, bass, vocals, and keyboard. By 1969, bands like Yes, Emerson, Lake and Palmer, and King Crimson were beginning to come together, forming a distinct genre marked by compositional complexity and odd time signatures. Some of Weigel’s roster is debatable—purists may argue about including Jethro Tull in the annals of prog, since Tull was really a blues band to which something strange happened along the way—and it’s a little light on the Canterbury scene, but the author ably captures the ambition of rock nerds who, as Yes singer Jon Anderson put it, saw “the possibility of rock music…really developing into a higher art form.” Points and plaudits are due for enlisting Rush, too, and for including the yobbos of Marillion, one of whose fans Weigel credits with inventing crowdfunding in the service of reviving a genre nearly killed off by prog-hating punk in the 1970s.

Prog fans will take to this book like Keith Emerson to an upside-down Hammond.

Pub Date: June 13, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-393-24225-6

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: April 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2017

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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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